After the past two months of negative press on China, here's something positive! The food! When I read Kitchen Chinese, by Ann Mah, last year, her writing impressed me, the food was inspiring and her story quite intriguing, so of course it had to be my Cook the Books Club pick.
As the Publishers say: "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."
The star of the tale is Isabelle Lee, who after her magazine career comes to a halt, finds herself at loose ends and wanting change. She leaves New York, hoping also to reconnect with her family roots in China. Her older sister is an attorney living there, so she has a place to stay. However, her familiarity with the language and culture is limited to 'kitchen Chinese'. Luckily, after arriving she is able to land a job at a magazine for the expatriate community in Beijing and find a circle of friends. Isabelle's Beijing immersion provides a refreshing and fun narrative, with insights into modern China and the expatriate experience, making for a truly enjoyable read. I hope you'll find it inspires your cooking as well!
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