My son Tom found my favorite cold cereal at a shop in his Beijing neighborhood, but after eating a Chinese breakfast with him
One of my favorite cookbooks has been, for years and long before I thought of food publishing, Barbara Tropp’s 1982 The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking. It doesn’t have the glossy photographs of Fuchsia Dunlop’s books, and the recipes are long – which might suggest complexity. But what Tropp does is take the reader by the hand and, with words, helps us see and taste and feel – before we write a shopping list or pick up a knife.
Thanks to Nicole Mones for alerting me to this wonderful blog from Shanghai. Here's a brief extract that strikes me as crucial information for any traveler to China who wants to taste everything, as I always do, without getting laduzi ('pulled stomach').
I was eating dim sum with friends in New York the other day. One of them, a young Chinese American, asked if I could recommend a book on pairing wine with Chinese dishes. She'd been stumped when arranging a Chinese dinner for her and her boyfriend’s parents. “If we’d been eating Western food, we could have picked nice wines for each course, but we couldn't figure out what really worked with Chinese food and it was really annoying.” She’d been talking to a friend in investment banking, another sophisticated Chinese American and said he had the same problem, "He's used to ordering expensive bottles of wine when he’s the host, but for Chinese food, and Chinese guests, he can’t figure out what to choose."
I posted a photo on Facebook of the jar of "Dilly Beans" I'd put up in July, after visiting friends with a surfeit of dill. I use a recipe from a favorite book from the 1960s. It's obviously loved and remembered by other people and you can find the story here: http://ow.ly/T4MMu. My reward was getting a response from a publishing friend, Paul Evans, in Singapore with his Chinese wife's recipe for pickled vegetables. Fang Yan has kindly allowed me to share her recipe. Thanks to both Paul and Fang for both the recipe and the photographs!