We, at Cook the Books Club, are currently reading and getting inspired by Kitchen Chinese, a delicious, little debut novel by Ann Mah. Fairly light weight, but I very much enjoyed it, both for the storyline and an up close look at a country headlining the news lately, mostly in a negative way.
Our protagonist, Isabelle, has come to a standstill in her life, with loss of job, no romance in sight and craving some new horizons. She decides to explore the family connections in China, where her sister is working as an attorney in Beijing. One drawback being that her knowledge of the language is limited to a bit of "kitchen Chinese" picked up watching and helping her mother cook while growing up.
However, once there, Isabelle manages to land a job at a magazine for the expatriate community in Beijing and connect with a small circle of friends. The relationship with her high powered sister is not so smooth, and they circle one another warily at first.
From the Publishers: "Kitchen Chinese, Ann Mah’s funny and poignant first novel about a young Chinese-American woman who travels to Beijing to discover food, family, and herself is a delight—complete with mouth-watering descriptions of Asian culinary delicacies, from Peking duck and Mongolian hot pot to the colorful, lesser known Ants in a Tree that will delight foodies everywhere. Reminiscent of Elizabeth Gilbert’s runaway bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, Mah’s tale of clashing cultures, rival siblings, and fine dining is an unforgettable, unexpectedly sensual reading experience—the story of one woman’s search for identity and purpose in an exotic and faraway land."
Spicy Cold Noodles with Beef Slivers
Adapted from Land of Plenty by Fuchsia Dunlop
After all, it should really be about the taste, helped along by eye appeal. I'm sure your average Chinese country woman or man would use what was fresh and available, in the spirit of the dish. For note on the black vinegar, sauce ingredient, see the comments below.
She notes that this serves 4 as a snack, 2-3 as a main lunch dish. Sorry dear, this is going to be dinner. For 2. We've been eating pretty light these days. We both scarfed this down, so good, and I'll be making it again, with variations given what's on hand.
To be shared over at Cook the Books for my contribution this round. You do have time to join in, as the deadline is July 31st. Also I'll link up with Marge the Intrepid for our Weekend Cooking event, and with Heather for her July edition of the Foodies Read Challenge. I hope you'll visit everyone for some great food and reading ideas.