Chinese food culture

Dumpling heaven in Adelaide

Posted by Fuchsia on March 19, 2013
Chinese food culture, Dumplings / 2 Comments

Afghan mantu

I’ve long been fascinated by the connection between Turkish mantı dumplings – and all their relatives across central and eastern Asia – and Chinese mantou (my paper on the subject from a Chinese angle will be published this summer in the Proceedings of the Oxford Food Symposium, along with a paper from the Turkish/Central Asian point of view by the Turkish food expert Aylin Oney Tan). So I was completely thrilled to come across these Afghan mantu in a gorgeous Afghan restaurant in Adelaide – the Parwana Afghan Restaurant. It’s a family business just outside the city centre where the warmth of the welcome and the charm of the ambience match the deliciousness of the food (I only came across it because the daughter of the owners was a volunteer at the Adelaide Writers’ Week and came to talk to me after one of my events, but it turns out to be highly rated by the local restaurant website, Continue reading…

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Curbing our greed for meat

Posted by Fuchsia on February 18, 2013
Banquets, Chengdu, Chinese food culture, Development, Environment / 6 Comments

Scientists are again urging people in the developed world to eat less meat for environmental reasons. Here’s a quote from a piece on the Guardian website today, which outlined some of the environmental consequences of our addiction to cheap meat:

The answer, [Prof Mark Sutton, lead author of a UN Environment Programme (Unep) study published on Monday] said, was more vegetables on the plate, and less animal protein. “Eat meat, but less often – make it special,” he urged. “Portion size is key. Many portions are too big, more than you want to eat. Think about a change of culture that says, ‘I like the taste, but I don’t need so much of it.’” Continue reading…

Britannia holds her own in the kitchen – finally!

Posted by Fuchsia on January 29, 2013
Chinese food culture, Restaurants / 5 Comments

I made a point of trying to prepare my Chinese friends for our Sunday lunch at St John Bread and Wine. “It’s one of my favourite restaurants, and I think the food is wonderful, but you may find it a bit simple by Chinese standards. The kitchen is incredibly careful (非常讲究) about the quality of ingredients, and the founding chef was one of the catalysts for the renaissance of British cooking. I’m taking you there because I want to show you some of the best of our local cuisine, but it’s quite meaty. And even if you’re not crazy about the savoury courses, one thing in which they excel is puddings and other sweet things, so you must try them… Etc etc.” Continue reading…

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Lucky Peach Chinatown issue!

Posted by Fuchsia on November 16, 2012
Chinese cuisine, Chinese food culture, Chinese restaurants / 3 Comments

Very happy to be in the Chinatown issue of Lucky Peach, which is out now! It’s a fantastic issue, packed with interesting stuff. Londoners can find it in Foyles in Charing Cross Road.

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Gastronomic tour of China 吃货团!



I’m currently in Shanghai, after the end of my first gastronomic tour with WildChina! I spent ten days or so introducing a small group (ten guests) to the amazing diversity of Chinese cuisines. We began in Beijing, where we tried famous Shandong dishes, Beijing folk cookery, Mongolian hotpot and Peking duck, and then flew to Xi’an, where a trip to see the Terracotta Warriors was bookended by slap-up feasts of local specialties. In Chengdu, we sampled xiao chi (‘small eats’), hotpot and many traditional dishes, enjoyed a glorious formal banquet and attended a hands-on cooking class; and in Shanghai and Hangzhou we scoffed fabulous dumplings and many local delicacies. All in all, if you count street snacks, we tried over 300 dishes. Continue reading…

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Talking about Chinese food

Posted by Fuchsia on September 18, 2012
Chinese cuisine, Chinese food culture, Interviews / No Comments

Here’s a video interview I did about Chinese food:


Pig ears set sail for China…

Posted by Fuchsia on July 28, 2012
Chinese food culture, Unusual delicacies / 2 Comments

You can read my piece about the new Sino-British pork deal that will bring shiploads of British pig’s ears to China in today’s FT magazine.


On the right, some sliced pig’s ear served as part of a Sichuanese hors d’oeuvres.

On the left: me modelling a nice pig’s head in Yangzhou.

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Feeding gods and ghosts in Taiwan

Posted by Fuchsia on May 16, 2012
Chinese food culture, Rituals / 1 Comment

Some tables of food offerings outside shops and restaurants in Tainan, southern Taiwan:

With the 'three sacrifices' 三牲, chicken, fish and pork, in pride of place

The same table as the one above, from another angle

Continue reading…

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Gastronomic tour of China!

Posted by Fuchsia on April 11, 2012
Chinese cuisine, Chinese food culture, Events / 4 Comments

I’m very happy to report that I’ll be leading a gastronomic tour of China from October 13-24 this year, in conjunction with WildChina, a specialist travel company based in Beijing. We’ll be eating our way around Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Hangzhou and Shanghai, as well as visiting amazing sites such as the Terracotta Army and the Great Wall. I’ll be arranging menus and explaining the food. Should be fun! Please go to the WildChina website for more details

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Happy New Year!

Posted by Fuchsia on January 22, 2012
Chinese food culture, Cooking, Festivals, Sichuanese cuisine / 12 Comments

Last year I gave you a few photographs of Chinese New Year in Hunan, 2004. This year, here are a couple of photographs of Chinese New Year meals in the far north of the country, in a remote part of Gansu Province in 1995. They were taken in the village that is the subject of the chapter ‘Hungry Ghosts’ in my book Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper. (Please forgive the poor quality of the images! I may try to scan them properly another time!)

On the right, you can see a pair of fish (fish are an almost obligatory part of New Year’s Eve dinners because nian nian you yu is a phrase that can mean both ‘fish every year’ and ‘plenty every year’: so the dish is an auspicious play on words.) Continue reading…

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