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Land of Plenty

by: Fuchsia Dunlop

New York NY: W.W. Norton & Company 2003, $30.00, Hardbound
ISBN: 0-393-05177-3

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2003 Issue: 10(4) page(s): 28

Revised for its intended American audience, this volume was originally published in London in 2001 and titled Sichuan Cookery. While the index bears a close resemblance, like the title, there are many changes, all for the better. This glossy rendition has twenty-five percent more pages, the same recipes rewritten for the American audience, and things of that nature including regrouping of items. It is easier to use.

Read about the sophisticated and diverse cooking of this one province. After you do, you will know it is an essential on your culinary shelf. You will also love its bold flavors and want to become sophisticated about this cuisine. Local Sichuanites claim five thousand recipes, dozens of cookery techniques, and more, a few detailed in the article titled: Sichuan’s Many Flavors on page 7 in this issue. This book details them as never before. Reading it and cooking from it are worthy of arm chair and stomach.

Fuchsia Dunlop trained as a full-time student at the 'Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine,' the very first Caucasian to do so. She spent months there and perused markets and restaurants in the region. She has a good eye and fine tastebuds; she made the most of both.

As a BBC journalist and graduate of 'Magdalene College,' 'Cambridge' and 'Westminster University,' and the 'School of Oriental and African Studies,' this young lady can speak, read, and write Chinese. She used her skills aplenty to translate what she learned into usable useful information. She writes well, has culinary understandings, and knows a lot about what Chinese people in that province really do eat. All together, these contribute to making her book a wonderful read from a terrific teacher. Furthermore, there are simple and complex recipes, those eaten at home and those found in fancy or frugal establishments. They provide a more complete picture of foods actually eaten in the Sichuan province than does any other book. The reader gains a broader range of information about what actually is eaten there, not just those recipes that sell cookbooks.

The British edition garnered many awards and lots of kudos. Some deemed it 'a pleasure’ and John Thorne of the United States called it a 'seminal exploration of one of China’s greatest regional cuisines.’ We found it a fun read that spills over with anecdotes, recipes, colorful descriptions, passion, and enthusiasm. Go taste it yourself!
Sweet Corn Kernels with Green Peppers
2 or 3 small green bell peppers
2 ears fresh corn on the cob or fourteen ounces corn kernels
3 Tablespoons peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, sea salt preferred
1. Dice peppers to match the size of the corn kernels.
2. Remove kernels from the cobs.
3. Heat oil and add both vegetables. Stir-fry them for about five minutes until the corn kernels are tender, then add salt and serve.

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