Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cookbook Focus Plus Authentic Chinese Recipes

The Seventh Daughter: My Culinary Journey from Beijing to San Francisco
by Cecelia Chiang and Lisa Weiss

This book does double duty as cookbook of authentic Chinese recipes that you’ll want to prepare in your own kitchen, and as a memoir that reads like a novel. It tells the story of a courageous woman who lived an adventurous life that spans from the China of the 1920s and 30s to San Francisco in the 60s and beyond.

Cecelia Chiang is largely credited with popularizing Chinese regional cuisine with Americans via her famous San Francisco restaurant, The Mandarin (unfortunately now closed). She started the restaurant against popular wisdom outside of San Francisco’s Chinatown when it was believed she was committing financial suicide. Instead she succeeded and flourished, presiding over what became a restaurant empire.

The recipes in this collection contain many Mandarin favorites along with authentic Chinese recipes from Cecelia’s own family. Interspersed between the recipes are chapters of Cecelia’s life in China during a tumultuous time in its history, her eventual immigration to the United States, and a behind the scenes look into one of America’s most respected and successful restaurants and restaurateurs.

She brings a unique perspective to both Chinese and American cultures in this fascinating memoir, including the immigrant experience and the perspective of an independent woman setting up a successful buisness in a man's world.

It’s hard to choose which of the two sides of this book are more enjoyable. Perhaps its best use would be to cook yourself some delicious Chinese recipes, then read while you eat.

Sample Recipes from The Seventh Daughter:

  • Tea Eggs -- These beautiful marbleized eggs are the ultimate snack food. They’re nutritious, can be served warm or cold, are portable, and best of all, are easy to make. But not only are they perfect for a picnic, they’re quite elegant on a platter at a buffet.
  • Eggplant in Garlic Sauce -- This dish is one Cecelia served since her early days on Polk Street in San Francisco. At first, her customers had difficulty with the idea that eggplant could be served cold. Most eggplant recipes at this time were fired and served hot. But this spicy version quickly won them over.
Click here for more information about The Seventh Daughter or to order through Amazon.com.

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