Some of my readers have been kind enough over the past years to suggest that I come up with a cookbook.
And now, with unrestrained delight, I can say that I not only will have a cookbook out soon -- on August 30, 2016 -- but it is called ALL UNDER HEAVEN. Even bigger news is that this book is being published by the most remarkable bunch of people ever: the folks at McSweeney's in San Francisco in cooperation with Ten Speed Press. (You may preorder it here as either a book or Kindle version on Amazon.com. And here is a lovely prepublication review.)
The only thing I can say is, I still can't believe it. Here's a bit of what's in store...
ALL UNDER HEAVEN will be the first in-depth look at every one of the cooking styles and culinary aesthetics of China, much like what I'm doing here on this blog.
|Ten Speed Press, too!|
I am hoping to bring sense and order to the entire spectrum of that ancient country's incredible patchwork of cuisines through a totally innovative way of understanding them.
Basically, ALL UNDER HEAVEN divides China's food traditions into five major regions that share the same geography and climate, as well as similar basic ingredients, cooking styles, seasonings, and interaction among the cuisines. These were then further narrowed down into 35 unique food traditions.
|Sample illustration from AUH|
By doing this, we get to understand the relationship between the foods in each region. It also provides context for their place in the vast world of cooking in China that has, until now, remained hidden.
And so, ALL UNDER HEAVEN not only acts as a guide to the unknown treasures of Anhui, Henan, Shaanxi, and Shandong, but also the vibrant cuisines of the Muslim West, of Tibet and Inner Mongolia, of the ethnic tribes of the Central Highlands, of the former colonies of Hong Kong and Macau, of the islands of Taiwan and Hainan, of the ancient food culture of the Hakka, and everyone in between.
This book shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no such thing as a singular "Chinese food." Because of language and cultural differences, China might like an unintelligible monolith at times, but it is actually home to ethnically diverse people who live in the oldest continuous culture on planet Earth.
These lands are therefore home to dishes with ancient histories, remarkable stories, and breathtaking legends, all of which lend unique takes on the ingredients and flavors of China. In addition, I will provide context for the more familiar cuisines which have made their way to our shores. This means that people whose parents arrived on these shores from small fishing villages in Guangdong, from the seafaring village of Teochow, and from the vital cities along the Yangtze will all be able to reconnect with their ancestry through food and learn how to cook like Grandma did.
|Yet another sample illustration|
You will most likely see some familiar things in ALL UNDER HEAVEN that originated in this blog. However, I have added a whole lot more that is new and, I hope, both helpful and entertaining. Like this blog, I will include traditional Chinese characters and their Mandarin pronunciations so that you can order these dishes in restaurants and buy the ingredients in Chinese markets. Finally, there will be a chapter on basic recipes, a glossary of unfamiliar ingredients, and an index.
If you liked my "Dim Sum Field Guide" (see the border of these blog pages, and go to this page for the whole enchilada), you should also like this book, because ALL UNDER HEAVEN, too, will be filled with helpful information, useless knowledge, and lots of line illustrations, like the samples shown here.
As things coalesce, I will add more to this introduction. In the meantime, thanks to all of you who have read this blog and supported my efforts. I am humbled by your generosity of time and attention, and more grateful than I can ever express.
All technique illustrations here are from the upcoming book ALL UNDER HEAVEN. These are protected by the applicable copyright laws of the United States and may not be duplicated.
ALL UNDER HEAVEN:
RECIPES FROM THE 35 CUISINES OF CHINA
McSweeney's/Ten Speed Press, forthcoming on August 30, 2016
524 pages, fully illustrated
ISBN-10: 1607749823 ISBN-13: 978-1607749820