Invitation to a Banquet: The Story of Chinese Food (Paperback)
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Invitation to a Banquet: The Story of Chinese Food (Paperback)

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Paperback 480 Pages
Published: 16/05/2024
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WINNER OF THE FORTNUM AND MASON FOOD BOOK AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDRE SIMON AWARD

‘A brilliant, passionate and spellbinding tour de force’ Claudia Roden

The epic tale of the world's most sophisticated gastronomic culture, toldthrough a banquet of thirty Chinese dishes

Chinese was the earliest truly global cuisine. When the first Chinese labourers began to sojourn and settle abroad, restaurants appeared in their wake. Yet Chinese food has the curious distinction of being both one of the world's best-loved culinary traditions and one of the least understood. For more than a century, the overwhelming dominance of a simplified form of Cantonese cooking ensured that few foreigners experienced anything of its richness and sophistication - but today that is beginning to change.

In this book, the James Beard Award-winning cook and writer Fuchsia Dunlop explores the history, philosophy and techniques of China's rich and ancient culinary culture. Each chapter examines a classic dish, from mapo tofu to Dongpo pork, knife-scraped noodles to braised pomelo pith, to reveal a singular aspect of Chinese gastronomy, whether it's the importance of the soybean, the lure of exotic ingredients or the history of Buddhist vegetarian cuisine. Meeting local food producers, chefs, gourmets and home cooks as she tastes her way across the country, Fuchsia invites readers to join her on an unforgettable journey into Chinese food as it is made, cooked, eaten and considered in its homeland.

Weaving together historical scholarship, mouth-watering descriptions of food and on-the-ground research conducted over the course of three decades, Invitation to a Banquet is a lively, landmark tribute to the pleasures and mysteries of Chinese cuisine.

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9780141997216
Number of pages: 480
Weight: 327 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 20 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

A brilliant, passionate and spellbinding tour de force - Claudia Roden

Fuchsia Dunlop is one of the world's best writers on Chinese food. This book is ample proof of that. Each chapter becomes a course, written in her usual erudite manner but entertaining and informative at the same time. I found the book irresistible, addicting and mouth-watering. If you love Chinese food then you must accept the invitation to her banquet! - Ken Hom CBE, author of CHINESE COOKERY

Fuchsia Dunlop is such a gifted writer that the reader cannot help being swept along by her masterful, yet intimate, account of a cuisine that is unmatched not only in its refinement and diversity, but also in the richness of its history of nutritional experimentation and speculation. Invitation to a Banquet is destined to become a classic of travel literature and ethnography as well as food writing - Amitav Ghosh, author of SMOKE AND ASHES

A brilliantly informative appreciation of Chinese food past and present, told through a series of essential ingredients and dishes… Her sensory writing is so vivid that I felt I was actually there with her in the food markets of China - Bee Wilson, Sunday Times

Dunlop's erudite historical account tells the story of China’s multifarious cuisine in lip-smacking detail... A compelling blend of scholarship and passion - Isabel Hilton, Financial Times

Dunlop travels from the wheat-eating north to the rice-loving south, dishing up meaty nuggets of history, morsels of politics and, above all, lip-smacking descriptions of food… A paean to Chinese gastronomy as refreshing as a bowl of grandma’s bitter melon and pork rib soup - Tom Miller, Spectator

In 30 years of exploring and documenting the country, Fuchsia Dunlop has done for China what Elizabeth David did for Mediterranean food and Claudia Roden did for the Middle East - Tim Lewis, Observer

An authoritative new book… Dunlop makes a compelling case for the superiority of Chinese cuisine, but in a delighted and expansive rather than a chauvinistic way - Economist

A vivid account of China’s food culture, going back to its mythical past to trace the diversity of flavours, textures and techniques that blossomed in the millennia that followed - Andrew Irwin, TLS

Hailed as one of the finest food writers, Dunlop understands that to simply describe food is stagnant. Her style is wickedly erotic… While one is lulled by her words, it is easy to forget how clever her construction. Like a fugue, her motifs echo and dance us to the end - Mei Chin, Irish Times

A landmark love letter to Chinese food - Mail on Sunday

As a young Chinese food writer, Fuchsia Dunlop's books were my Harry Potter. She introduced me to the vibrant, expansive, magical world of Chinese gastronomy beyond the four walls of my Cantonese home. Next to my parents, there's no person I've learned more about the cooking of my people than Fuchsia Dunlop. Invitation to a Banquet just might be her magnum opus: the richest English-language accounting of China's culinary history I've ever read. I'm grateful this magnificent book exists - Kevin Pang, author of A VERY CHINESE COOKBOOK

There are cooks who write and writers who cook, but very few succeed in blending both arts to perfection in the way Fuchsia Dunlop does. The flavours arising from these pages are sprinkled with insight and experience, its narrative is infused with anecdote and historical depth. This book is the perfect dish for anyone curious about the story of Chinese cuisine and a joy for those among us simply in need of food for thought - Professor Roel Sterckx, author of CHINESE THOUGHT

Fuchsia understands Chinese cuisine better than any other foreigner I know - Chen Xiaoqing, director of FLAVORFUL ORIGINS, A BITE OF CHINA, and ONCE UPON A BITE

Fuchsia Dunlop's expertise in Chinese cuisine is both remarkable and enlightening. She has devoted her life to intricately intertwining China's rich history with its culinary traditions, making significant contributions in sharing this delicious knowledge. Invitation to a Banquet offers a captivating glimpse into Chinese culture, served as a mouthwatering feast. Indeed, there's no better way to understand a culture than through its food, and Fuchsia captures this notion with mastery - René Redzepi, co-owner and chef of noma

How the scales fall away from the eyes reading this masterpiece. Invitation to a Banquet enthrals as it enlightens as it delights. Fuchsia Dunlop has a way with words and cooking quite unique and mesmerising. I have had to put the book down only out of necessity and wish only that instead of mounting a bicycle headed to work, I had boarded a train bound for China, book in hand, with a blanket, chopsticks and a hamper brimming with dishes prepared by Fuchsia - Jeremy Lee, author of COOKING

One of our very finest chroniclers of food cultures, I want to read everything Fuchsia Dunlop writes - Caroline Eden, author of RED SANDS

Any book by Fuchsia Dunlop is cause for celebration, but this one is very special. Heart-felt and beautifully researched, Invitation to a Banquet serves up an entirely new way to enjoy Chinese food. It is a gift to everyone who ever picked up chopsticks - Ruth Reichl

Fuchsia Dunlop is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Chinese cuisine... Dunlop’s storytelling is superb - Miranda Brown, Literary Review

Dunlop delves into a complex, subtle cuisine with an insider’s expertise - Kirkus Reviews

Written in lively prose and with a sensitivity to the emotional content of food in culture, [the book] offers a whistle-stop tour of Chinese cuisine... Taking in everything from the right consistency of rice to the ideal texture of chicken testicles, it’s a lip-smacking read - Alec Ash, China Books Review

A fantastically accomplished deep-dive into the history of Chinese food, and its place in today’s culinary world. It’s difficult to think of anybody better placed to put such a book together - restaurantonline.co.uk, Joe Lutrario

Rapturous... Invitation to a Banquet reveals a universe of delights, innovation and versatility so deep and broad it will subdue even readers who believe they know all about the cuisine - Howard Chua-Eoan, Bloomberg

The book that has stuck with me from 2023 is Fuchsia Dunlop’s Invitation to a Banquet… Without touching on politics, Dunlop’s book is more illuminating about the arc that China has travelled — from humiliation to eminence — than a shelf load of geostrategic tracts called things like Dragon Rising - Janan Ganesh, Financial Times

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“Sumptuous”

This is such a rich and fascinating insight into the history, culture, and philosophy of Chinese cooking. It is jam-packed with insights into different Chinese cuisines (which I write consciously after Dunlop's... More

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