Non-Chinese cooks often consider Chinese food as a complete world apart from other styles of food, but I find that Chinese cold dishes mix well with dishes from other traditions. I often rustle up some kind of Sichuanese chicken salad, dressed in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, chilli oil, Sichuan pepper and perhaps a little Chinese vinegar, for a party, and it always seems to go down a storm. The spicy cucumber salad from my Sichuan book is another favourite â€“ incredibly easy to make in advance, unusual and delicious.
Supper at my friend Anissa Helouâ€™s place last week turned out to be a polyglot feast, with Gujarati snacks she commissioned from the mother of her newsagent, a magnificent Lebanese tabbuleh, a Sichuanese chicken dish and fish-fragrant aubergines, served cool. We all thought they went together rather nicely.
Altogether, it’s been an incredibly varied fortnight, foodwise: my first visit to the River Cafe in London for a close friend’s birthday (fabulous langoustines with marjoram), a Sichuanese supper at my place for my ‘kitchen sister’ Lipika, a glorious home-made bouillabaisse at another friend’s house, hog roast in a West London garden, extended family picnic in Waterlow Park (with another Sichuanese salad as my contribution), cocktails at Loungelover and dinner at my favourite Vietnamese place, Song Que, with Anissa and visiting food-writer Anya Von Bremzen! Anyway, enough of all that, tonight I’m off to a deserted Scottish island to make bread and attempt to catch fish.