Serve the People

Serve the People

A Stir-fried Journey Through China

Book - 2008
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A memorable and mouthwatering cook's tour of today's China

As a freelance journalist and food writer living in Beijing, Jen Lin-Liu already had a ringside seat for China's exploding food scene. When she decided to enroll in a local cooking school--held in an unheated classroom with nary a measuring cup in sight--she jumped into the ring herself. Progressing from cooking student to noodle-stall and dumpling-house apprentice to intern at a chic Shanghai restaurant, she finds poor young men and women streaming in from the provinces in search of a "rice bowl" (living wage); a burgeoning urban middle class hungry for luxury after decades of turmoil and privation; and the mentors who take her in hand in the kitchen and beyond. Together they present an unforgettable slice of contemporary China in the full swing of social and economic transformation.

Publisher: Orlando, Fla. :, Harcourt,, 2008.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780151012916
Branch Call Number: 641.5951 LI
Characteristics: pages cm


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Mar 16, 2015

I enjoyed this look at the food and people of China in the early 2000s. Jen goes to China as a free-lance journalist from America. She's American-Chinese. This gives her a unique perspective: American born/raised and looks Chinese. She's accepted in ways that other Americans wouldn't perhaps be, yet she struggles with the language & customs, putting her outside the "norm" of the people she meets and keeping her slightly apart. She's also privileged in the sense that her journalist job pays her more than the average Chinese person makes for much longer hours and harder work. In all, a very unique perspective.
Jen becomes interested in the cuisine of China. It permeates through all levels of social interaction and the deliciousness of it intrigue her. She enrolls in a cooking school, then works in a noodle house, a dumpling shop, works her way up to high-class restaurants. Along the way, she learns the techniques, meets the people, hears their stories and falls evermore in love with the country, its people and the food.
This is a close look at what it's like to work in the noodle houses and dumpling shops in China and, again, it's a privileged position to write from: Jen volunteers her time to learn but she also works fewer hours and knows that this isn't her life-long career; she goes home to a large apartment. The people she meets do not have these privileges.
All in all, I liked the perspective within this book and the witty, warm way that Jen told her story and discoveries.

Jan 07, 2011

I received this book as a birthday present from a friend I met in Chinese language class. I wasn't so sure I wanted to read a food novel. But oh my goodness was I wrong! I love this book so much I won't even pass it around for others to read. Let them get their own! It's filled with stories and humor, but most importantly RECIPES... recipes which I have had difficulty finding in cookbooks. While there are a great many cookbooks about world cuisine, authentic Chinese food seems to still confound cookbook authors. This is a fun read.


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