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

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

Fuchsia Dunlop

Language: English

Pages: 329

ISBN: 0393332888

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


“Destined, I think, to become a classic of travel writing.”―Paul Levy, The Observer

After fifteen years spent exploring China and its food, Fuchsia Dunlop finds herself in an English kitchen, deciding whether to eat a caterpillar she has accidentally cooked in some home-grown vegetables. How can something she has eaten readily in China seem grotesque in England? The question lingers over this “autobiographical food-and-travel classic” (Publishers Weekly).

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beds made from cornstalks and leaves, had no electricity or running water, and were always hungry. This friend returned to Chengdu after three years, but other, unfortunate girls married village men and were never allowed to go home, condemned for the rest of their lives to hardship and deprivation. The younger generation to which Zhou Yu and Tao Ping belong was never forced to live the grinding life of a Chinese peasant. Newly mobile, with their private cars and vans, they have begun to see the

enormous poppyheads bobbing around in the broth. Actually, though, you didn’t need poppyheads to unwind and lose your inhibitions in Sichuan. There was something in the air, in the dialect, in the people, and above all in the food: a warmth and a languor that melted away any English stiffness, like butter in the sun. My heart was clenched like a fist when I moved to Chengdu. I could barely communicate, except through food. But as the weeks drifted past, I felt myself softening. For the first

Here we just like to relax and have fun.’ Our breakfast was extraordinarily delicious. We ate steamed buns stuffed with radish slivers; with chopped pork, bamboo shoot, mushrooms and tiny shrimps; and with finely-chopped greens. There were juicy steamed dumplings with a sweet, meaty filling; grilled buns with toasted sesame; dry beancurd slivers with soy sauce and sesame oil. ‘Look at this bao zi,’ said Mr Xia, pointing at a bun resting in a bamboo steamer, ‘it’s beautiful. See how delicately it

three-wheeled bicycles; their heads and necks swayed elegantly above their anchor of straw as the sellers negotiated their way through the maelstrom of bicycles and buses. Like the eels, the chickens and ducks met a bloody, public end. ‘Let’s have a look at that one,’ said Feng Rui. So the vendor snatched the chicken by the scruff of its neck and held it up for his approval. Feng Rui prodded it and peered at its feet. ‘You can tell its age by the feet,’ he told me, ‘This one, you see, its thumb

everything, and was sometimes surprised at the consequences. CHAPTER 1 Mouths That Love Eating Crawling out of bed on a damp October morning, in my small shared room in the Foreign Students’ Building of Sichuan University. My Italian roommate, Filomena, is already up and out. Sleepily, I pull on a padded jacket and look out of the window. As usual, the sky is a muffled grey (‘Sichuanese dogs bark’ – in surprise – ‘at the sun’, goes the old saying). Over the wall that is supposed to keep

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