Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper

Winner of the Jane Grigson Award (2009) and the Kate Whiteman Award for Work on Food and Travel (2009). Shortlisted for the James Beard Writing and Literature Award

Amazon US | Amazon UK

An extraordinary memoir of an Englishwoman’s attempt to immerse herself in Chinese food and Chinese culinary culture. In the course of her decade-long journey, Fuchsia undergoes an apprenticeship at a Sichuanese cooking school, where she is the only foreign student in a class of nearly fifty young Chinese men; attempts, hilariously, to persuade Chinese people that ‘Western food’ is neither ‘simple’ nor ‘bland’; and samples a multitude of exotic ingredients, including sea cucumber, civet cat, scorpion, rabbit-heads and the ovarian fat of the snow frog. But is it possible for a Westerner to become a true convert to the Chinese way of eating? In an encounter with a caterpillar in an Oxford kitchen, Fuchsia is forced to put this to the test.

Selected reviews

‘Not just a smart memoir about cross-cultural eating but one of the most engaging books of any kind I’ve read in years’   O Magazine

‘Insightful, entertaining, scrupulously reported… and a swashbuckling memoir studded with recipes… a distinguished contribution to the literature of gastronomy’   New York Times

‘Destined… to become a classic of travel writing’   The Observer (UK)

‘Marvellous and mesmerising’   The Daily Mail (UK)

‘Delightful’   Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue