Monday, February 8, 2016

The Dim Sum Field Guide is now officially ready to go!

Happy Year of the Monkey! The happiest day on the Chinese calendar is finally here. Lots of my friends are monkeys – meaning that they were born in the year of, not that they are actual simians – and so I always think of this year as promising good things.

Today is not a day for cooking. In fact, if you have gotten your act together better than me, you should be living off the stuff you already socked away for these two weeks of celebration. So, instead of telling you what to make, I’m going to let you in on a preview of one of my two books. I think you’ll like it.

THE DIM SUM FIELD GUIDE: A TAXONOMY OF DUMPLINGS, BUNS, MEATS, SWEETS, AND OTHER SPECIALTIES OF THE CHINESE TEAHOUSE is coming out from Ten Speed Press in late August. I’ve been doing the final proofreading this last week, and I am so excited with how it has turned out.

First of all, this will be a smallish book – about the size of an iPad – so you can stash it in your bag or backpack whenever you head out for a dim sum meal. Arranged like a real field guide, all of those amazing dishes are divided into a sort of family tree, with genus and species. (Yeah, I know. But still. You have to take an idea and run with it.)

You will be able to identify 76 different types of dim sum through all of my hand-drawn illustrations. Both the Mandarin and Cantonese pronunciations are in there for every singe dish, along with their traditional Chinese characters, so you can either proudly proclaim what it is you would like to order or point it out to your server.

In here you will get an idea of how each one of these dishes is made, its background, its flavors and textures, and the appropriate way to enjoy it. And, under each entry, you will see some of the other dim sum items to which it is related. For example, under Custard Tarts you can find shorter entries on Portuguese Custard Tarts and Milk Tarts, while Roast Duck will include mini discussions on Pipa Duck, Chaozhou-Style Braised Duck, and Roast Goose.

This book started out as a feature in the Lucky Peach “Chinatown” issue a couple of years ago. It has since morphed into this new and improved guidebook with over 200 dishes. Divided into savory and sweet dim sum, THE DIM SUM FIELD GUIDE is easy to use and full of fun facts.

You will learn in here, too, what types of tea to order with your meal, how to go about designing a dim sum brunch, and the proper etiquette. (Hint: it’s not all that hard.) 

Little symbols accompany each entry so that you know at a glance what is in that dish and how to eat it – Is it vegan? Does it include peanuts? Can I pick it up with my hands? – in order to quickly demystify this incredibly delicious way of leisurely enjoying a wide variety of flavors and textures during the course of your meal.

I’m happy to say now that it will be out in only seven months! Thank you, Chris Ying, for being this book’s godfather and providing a fabulous quote for the cover, Lucky Peach for nurturing this seedling of an idea, and Ten Speed Press for allowing it to grow into a genuine book. And last but certainly not least, thank you all for reading my work and encouraging me. I am grateful beyond belief.

What a dream come true.

All illustrations copyright (c) 2016 by Carolyn Phillips. Do not reproduce without written permission.

Ten Speed Press, forthcoming in August 2016
176 pages, 80 illustrations
ISBN: 978-60774-956-1

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