A Devon idyll of cakes, cooking and conversation

Posted by Fuchsia on September 07, 2013
Cooking, Foraging, Writing / 5 Comments

Totleigh Barton

I’m just back home after a week of intensive teaching and eating in Devon, where writer, designer, cook, photographer and restaurateur Alastair Hendy and I were running a food-writing course for the Arvon Foundation. We and thirteen students were let loose in Totleigh Barton, an ancient thatched house filled with books, with no television or radio and virtually no telephone or internet access. On all Arvon courses, lunches are provided by visiting staff, but dinners are cooked by whichever group of writers is in residence, and everyone fixes their own breakfast as and when they choose. Normally, the Arvon people provide recipe cards and suggested menus for the dinners, but with a food-writing group that included accomplished amateur and professional cooks… well, as you can imagine, we were largely left to our own devices, which meant that we feasted like kings for four days. Continue reading…

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You say tomayto I say tomahta

Posted by Fuchsia on November 28, 2011
Language, Menus, Writing / 21 Comments

Last week I gave a talk at the Free Word Centre in London about the challenges of translating into English the language of Chinese food and cookery (it was part of a series organised by the two translators-in-residence, Nicky Harman and Rosalind Harvey). I gave a few examples of atrocious translations of dish names on Chinese restaurant menus, and then looked at some of the issues confronting translators, including the vast number of specialised culinary terms with no English equivalent, the culturally-specifice gastronomic concepts, and the wit and poetry of Chinese dish names. It all felt particularly relevant at the moment, since I’ve been grappling with the question of how to translate 豆腐 into English in my next book. In my previous books, I’ve translated it as ‘beancurd’, but my current editor favours ‘bean curd’, which to me looks a little awkward. Another option would be to use the standard pinyin transliteration from Chinese: dou fu. Meanwhile, the vast majority of writing in English uses the Japanese-derived term tofu.

Continue reading…

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Grapple factor

Posted by Fuchsia on March 10, 2010
Language, Writing / 4 Comments
Grapplous crayfish in Hunan

Grapplous crayfish in Hunan

I’m pleased to see that an American blog has picked up on the term ‘grapple factor’ – a term invented by my father to describe foods which are very complicated to eat, like tiny birds and shell-on prawns. I find it an invaluable term, myself. What about you?

And have any of you invented any useful words or phrases that you use for food or cookery?


Why I write

Posted by Fuchsia on December 14, 2009
Interviews, Writing / 2 Comments

New listing on the That’s Shanghai website, as part of a series of Q&As with China-focused writers.