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OP: The Mandarin Way

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by Cecilia Sun Yun Chiang

Cecilia Chiang (19202020) is widely credited with introducing northern Chinese food to the US, which previously had been exposed almost exclusively to the Cantonese cuisine of the South and to the American-invented chop suey popularized during the early years of Chinese immigration to the West. 

Having no culinary or business background whatsoever, Chiang opened the Mandarin restaurant in San Francisco in 1960, and it quickly became the “it” spot for celebrities and epicures alike.

Her first book—part memoir, part cookbook—The Mandarin Way (1974) tells the story of Chiang’s well-to-do upbringing in Peking and the years of tremendous hardship during the Japanese occupation and WWII. Chiang's account of dining in her youth focuses on the memorable feasts supplied by household cooks and servants, rather than on the starkly contrasting years of scarcity and difficulty that followed.

With the aid of translator Allan Carr, Chiang vividly recreates a vanished time and place. Each chapter is punctuated by a selection of recipes enjoyed and remembered: red-cooked pork shoulder; Peking duck; walnut syllabub—a custardy puree of nuts, dates, condensed milk, and cognac; chicken velvet—a paste of scraped chicken breast, cornstarch, and egg white, deep fried then sauteed with fresh mushrooms and snow peas.

We are pleased to offer a signed first printing, inscribed to a previous owner, in Very Good Plus condition. We spot one stray stain suggesting food splatter; otherwise, the book block would be classified as Fine. The jacket is clean and intact, showing minor wear about the edges and missing a small bit of paper at the head of the slightly light-faded spine. An excellent gift for longtime Cecilia Chiang fans or new disciples.

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