The author ofAll Under Heaven, an exceptional resource on Chinese regional cooking, Carolyn Phillips offers here a highly personal account of falling in love and marrying into a traditional Chinese family.
In the first few pages ofAt the Chinese Table, Phillips makes it clear that she has an eye for culinary detail, conjuring the foods and smells of a bustling Taipei market that bewilders and entrances her. But before she could acquire any kind of facility with them, she first had to develop her skills with language, and along the way with the culture, additionally inspired by a blossoming relationship with a young scholar whose family was not at all sure she was the best match for their eldest son.
Each of the chapters here includes a several recipes for things Phillips ate and learned to make, most of them outside the familiar range of American-published cookbooks: simple radish soup; chilled winter melon with wine and ginger; chicken meatballs in clear broth. The simple stories she tells to associate them with the family members and other people and places she got to know make the recipes and memoir all feel of a piece.