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Snake Fang Salad
by: Greg Elms
St. Kilda, Victoria Australia:
Black Light Publications 2007, Paperback
Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Winter Volume: 2008 Issue: 15(4) page(s): 24
Touted on the cover by Tony Wheeler, Lonely Planet's founder, this book, subtitled: Culinary travails in China, includes ten pungent sweet and sour travel essays reflecting different foods, finds, and fun in a like number of cities and provinces. It begins in Guilin, goes overland to Yangzhou, by air and on to Lijiang, Chongqing, Xian, Beijing, and Shanghai. On the ground again, it is off to Suzhou and Hangzhou, and then a final airplane ride to Guangzhou.
This circle of travels touts many culinary images and tastes, be they scorpions in Beijing, snakes in Guangzhou, purple carrots in Xian, or hot pot in Chongqing. It jumps around and the real or unusual, all written by a leading food and travel photographers for the Lonely Planet enterprise.
Sixteen pages of color photographs bound together with twice that number of full-page pictures are all worth perusing as is another selection touted for those who go to www.gregels.com--so do check images from this book at www.lonelyplanetimages.com while at the web.
The original purpose of the trip was to capture the world's oldest continuous cuisine in words and pictures. Problems, or as the rear cover calls them, "conundrums are served with every meal.....a story as bizarre as it is real, a contemporary picture of a nation increasingly intrinsic to Western life."
We found the book an easy and quick read written by someone who came with a list of things and places to see, and little else other than lots of heavy camera gear. He and we would have benefitted from his learning more about the country, cities, and places visited before his flights or travels by land.