Chew on this.
"Learning another cuisine is like learning a language.  In the beginning, you know nothing about its most basic rules of grammar.  You experience it as a flood of words, or dishes, without system or structure.  When I first went to China, I was already fluent in the language of basic French cookery.  I could make a roux, mayonnaise, hollandaise, vinaigrette, pâtes sucrée or choux.  I knew how to sauté ingredients at the start of a stew to make them more delicious, and I could often identify the seasonings and techniques that had been used in a finished dish.  And so, in a sense, following a new French recipe was easy, it was just a matter of assembling it from the basic building blocks, the rudimentary culinary processes.  The elements themselves were rarely new, however unfamiliar their combination.  Even without a recipe, I could look at an ingredient and think of several ways of cooking it.  But with Chinese cookery I hadn't a clue."

-Fuchsia Dunlop, Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China

One response to “Chew on this.”

  1. […] But to start off, below are some of my most loved Chinese cookbooks.  They contain particularly wonderful recipes, photography, and an abundance of basic information on the cuisine itself to help you start to get a grasp of “its most basic rules of grammar.” […]

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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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