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Invitation to a Banquet: The Story of Chinese Food

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by Fuchsia Dunlop
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For a limited time we have copies signed by Fuchsia Dunlop.

A renowned expert on Chinese cuisine traces the origins and significance of thirty dishes to provide a highly-readable account that also illuminates the country’s history and culture.

The author of award-winning books such as The Food of Sichuan and Land of Fish and Rice, Fuchsia Dunlop has spent over thirty years studying Chinese food. Here, in more than 460 pages, she reveals the distinctive aspects of the Chinese approach to food, from how ingredients are chosen and the methods by which they are prepared to how food is eaten and what is considered good and satisfying.

Readers looking for a strictly chronological approach may initially be frustrated by Dunlop’s seemingly fragmented approach. But by telling the story of cha siu pork, steamed rice, fish stew, and other representative dishes, she paints an expanding picture of the way Chinese food developed, returning again and again to all that it reveals about social structure, political thought, and everyday life.

The scope of Dunlop’s account ranges from mythical origin stories to the present day, illustrated with examples from legend and history that turn broad impressions into vivid, concrete examples, whether she’s describing dishes or cooks, or recounting thousand-year-old stories of encounters between an Emperor-in-exile and a fisherwoman.

Perhaps food is more central to Chinese culture than to any other; likely we have simply seen very few books which so deftly establish relationships the way Invitation to a Banquet does.

Hardcover. Maps.

Published: November 7, 2023

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