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Chinatown New York

by: Ann Volkwein

New York NY: Collins Design, an imprint of HarperCollins 2007, $34.95, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-0-06-118859-6

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2008 Issue: 15(2) page(s): 23

Great information can be found in this book sub-titled: Portraits, Recipes, and Memories. Great views and gorgeous pictures are there, too. They are by Vegar Abelsnes. They and the text combine well, enabling exploration of Manhattan's Chinatown where there are five things to do, see, and eat. One can also visit with this neighborhood's movers and shakers, look at its landmarks, and so much more.

Read about the evolution of Chinatown in the mid-nineteenth century. Continue through today and end with a plethora of resources for those who can visit and those who want to simply read more. Explore meals then and now, current restaurants by cuisine and their recipes, participate in Chinese celebrations from Lunar New Year to Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, taste teas and get a look at tea ceremonies, shop for dried and fresh herbs and other ingredients, and learn where to purchase Chinese artifacts.

This book ends telling about local transportation to get there, long distance inexpensive Chinese bus companies that go there from Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Boston, and other touristic information, books, markets, and additional resources.

The author, a food and life-style writer with lots of culinary experience and many publications, wrote a cookbook about the Italian neighborhood around Author Avenue in the Bronx. Our hope is she investigates and informs about other Chinatown throughout the United States.

In New York City's Manhattan, Volkwein paints a picture of pizzazz, it is what brings millions to this fascinating neighborhood. She demystifies Chinatown making it vivid and vital. She tells about the mid-nineteenth century when a small number of Chinese immigrants came. One can read on into today when this community boasts one of, if not the largest concentration of Chinese in the western hemisphere.

Everyone interested in Chinese food and Chinese enclaves should read this book. They should make and taste the recipes, all from local chefs. And, they should enjoy learning about Chinese teas, the tea ceremony, etc. Explore streets, shops, and restaurants, including the one that sells more than a hundred prepared ducks on a week day, with many more sold on Saturdays and Sundays. The author advises that there are three times as many Chinese restaurants in America than there are McDonald's, that Chinatown is where Chinese people meet and eat, that herbalists offer free nutrition advise and sell prescription packets proffered to pursue prevention, rejuvenation, and longevity, and that the Chinatown museum, while not easy to find, is full of artifacts and information. So is this book; a treasure worth checking out.
Vegetable Dumplings May May
1/2 cup minced cooked Shanghai cabbage or bokcai
1/2 cup minced cooked spinach
1/2 cup minced cooked broccoli
1/4 cup minced cooked watercress
1/4 cup minced cooked carrot
2 Tablespoons tree ear mushrooms, soaked, then minced
1/3 cup minced pickled mustard or other greens
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon thin soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/3 package fresh dumpling wrappers (about 40)
2 pieces cabbage or lettuce leaves
1. In a bowl, mix all ingredients except the dumpling wrappers.
2. Put one and a half teaspoons of the vegetable mix in the center of one dumpling wrapper. Gather the edges of the dough around the filling, and squeeze the dough lightly naking a neck to keep filling together.
3. Put cabbage or lettuce leaves on steamer rack and then put dumplings half-inch apart of these leaves.
4. Cover the steamer and steam over rapidly boiling water for ten minutes, then serve.

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