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Land Of Plenty [Hardcover]

Fuchsia Dunlop
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 27 2003
The food of the Sichuan region in southwest China is one of the world's great culinary secrets. Many of us know it for its "hot and spicy" reputation or a few of its most famous dishes, most notably Kung Pao chicken, but that is only the beginning. Sichuanese cuisine is legendary in China for its sophistication and astounding diversity: local gourmets claim the region boasts 5000 different dishes. Fuchsia Dunlop fell in love with Sichuanese food on her first visit to the province ten years ago. The following year she went to live in the Sichuanese capital Chengdu, where she became the first foreigner to study full-time at the province's famous cooking school, the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. Now she has given us a cookbook gathered on the spot from the kitchens of Sichuan, filled with stories and colorful descriptions of the region itself. Useful for the enthusiastic beginner as well as the experienced cook, Land of Plenty teaches you not only how to prepare the Sichuan recipes but also the art of chopping and to appreciate the textures of dishes. Among this book's unique features: a full glossary of Chinese terms; Chinese characters useful for shopping; a practical introduction to the art of cutting; detailed lists of the 23 recognized flavor combinations and 56 cooking methods used in Sichuanese cuisine; 16 color pictures of the ingredients and finished dishes; double-page maps of the region; and Chinese characters for every recipe

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Land Of Plenty + Every Grain Of Rice + Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook
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From Amazon

Elizabeth David had it easy. All she had to do was eat her way through France and Italy and translate the essence of the encountered cuisines for a ravenous, literate, English-speaking public. Fuschia Dunlop, on the other hand, went to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan in China, where she ended up the first foreign student enrolled at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. That was nearly 10 years ago. After annual return visits and endless research she has produced, in English, a magnificent introduction to the food and foodways of Sichuan. She is in every way the dharma inheritor of Elizabeth David.

You too may start to salivate halfway through the introduction to Dunlop's magnificent Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking. Perhaps it begins when she explains xian, "one of the most beautiful words in the Chinese culinary language." It describes an entire range of flavor and sensation, "the indefinable, delicious taste of fresh meat, poultry, and seafood, the scrumptious flavors of a pure chicken soup..." Before you know it you are running headlong into a world of 23 distinct flavors and 56 cooking methods (they are all listed at the end of the book). Sichuan is the place where "barbarian peppers" met up with a natural cornucopia and a literary cooking tradition stretching back to the fifth century A.D. Innovation with cooking technique and new and challenging ingredients remains a hallmark of Sichuan. After describing basic cutting skills and cooking techniques, Dunlop presents her recipes in chapters that include "Noodles, Dumplings, and Other Street Treats"; "Appetizers"; "Meat"; "Poultry"; "Fish"; "Vegetables and Bean Curd"; "Stocks and Soup"; "Sweet Dishes"; and "Hotpot." Yes, you will find Gong Bao (Kung Pao) Chicken with Peanuts--Gong Bao Ji Ding. It's named after a late 19th-century governor of Sichuan, Ding Baozhen, which brought on the wrath of the Cultural Revolution for its imperial associations. Until rehabilitation, the dish was called "fast-fried chicken cubes" or "chicken cubes with seared chilies."

Land of Plenty is literary food writing at its best, as well as a marvelous invitation to new skills and flavors for the home cook. Read it. Cook it. Eat it. And take pleasure in the emerging career of Fuschia Dunlop, a big new voice in the world of food. --Schuyler Ingle

From Publishers Weekly

Sichuan cuisine, renowned for its spicy notes and hot flavors, is famous in Chinese history and lore for its variety and richness of tastes and layers. Dunlop, who writes about Chinese food and culture for the Economist, has produced a volume that is sure to take its place among the classics of Chinese cuisine. Drawing on her experience as a student at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine in Chengdu, China and on many Chinese sources, she conveys the history and geography that make this cuisine so different from the other regions and so varied-the region boasts 5,000 different dishes. After discussing the tastes and textures that form Chinese cuisine in general, Dunlop describes cooking methods, equipment and the pantry before diving into the recipes. From such traditional dishes as Strange-Flavor Chicken (aka Bang Bang Chicken) to Hot-and-Sour Soup that have made the region famous, to the simple Zucchini Slivers with Garlic to the appealing Spicy Cucumber Salad, she engagingly describes dishes and their context, much in the style of Elizabeth David and Claudia Roden. Ending with sections entitled "The 23 Flavors of Sichuan" and "The 56 Cooking Methods of Sichuan," the book is a pleasure-both to cook from and to read.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Search of Xian Nov. 26 2003
Fuchia Dunlap's first book on Sichuan cooking is a very strong entry into the world of works on regional cuisines. I heartily agree with blurbs by such notables as John Thorne and Alan Davidson that the work puts Dunlap in the company of Diana Kennedy and Paula Wolfert. One can hope that future works validate this initial judgement. We can use a lot more books like this.
I believe it is common knowledge among foodies that there is a big difference between Sechuan and Cantonese cuisine, and that the former is characterized by very spicy foods. Viewing a few episodes with the Iron Chef Chinese will fill you on this. What this book covers is to characterize with great clarity and thoroughness what Sichuan cooking is all about.
The first impression I get is that Sichuan cooking is very highly codified, almost on the same level as French cuisine. This immediately reveals to the reader that, for example, there are easily a half dozen different types of stir fry cooking within Sichuan cuisine alone. It also means that the Sichuan doctrines on taste match or exceed Western culinary tradition. They have, for example, the concept of 'xian' which describes the 'indefinable, delicious taste of fresh meat, poultry, and seafood'. This is in addition to the real magic the cuisine does with the more familiar sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. The author effectively captures and communicates the importance of these tastes in Sichuan cuisine to the reader, including experiments so one can experience these tastes first hand.
The second impression I get is that chilis, that is, plants of the genus capsicum from the new world, had as big an impact on Sichuan cuisine as the tomato had on Italian cuisine, at roughly the same time in history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must for the serious Asian 'foodie' Oct. 9 2006
By C. J. Thompson TOP 500 REVIEWER
I have a huge collection of cookbooks... This is one of my best. So many Szechuan cookbooks simply contain a collection of chinese recipes spiced up with chili paste.This one does interesting things with a wide range of spices (cardamom, sand ginger etc) that I really didn't realize were popular in some chinese cusines until I read this book. A must read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real Chinese cookbook July 28 2003
By A Customer
I'm an Asiaphile, and have been for a long time. And as a result, I'm only too aware of how hard it is to find really good Chinese cookbooks in English. This is one of them. Dunlop shares the recipes she learned at Sichuan's highest-profile cooking school, and puts them in context - not only do you learn how to cook the dish, you learn how to taste it as well.
If you're the kind of cook who'd rather eat after hours with the kitchen staff at your local Chinese restaurant than order the Americanised stuff on the menu, this book is for you. Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare book on Chinese regional cooking June 18 2003
By A Customer
If you're a fan of Sichuan cuisine, this is the only book available in English that provides authentic recipes! Some items, particularly in the street food section, you'd be hard pressed to find in any restaurant here.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best regional Chinese recipes June 27 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ms. Dunlop writes great recipes that are interesting and approachable. The book is good looking and well laid out.
I am enjoying both of her books (Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook) and will be ordering another soon. I believe her books are classic.
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