Monday, January 23, 2012

'My China: A Feast for All the Senses' by Kylie Kwong

This is a cook book.

This is a luscious coffee table art book, with such extravagant pictures, paper, and ink that it actually SMELLS like a good book.

This is an exciting travelogue.

This is "My China: A Feast for All the Senses" by Kylie Kwong, and it is really one of my favorite books of all time. Five stars.

This post was written as part of Weekend Cooking, a weekly meme hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to head over to Beth Fish Reads, grab the button, and link up anytime over the weekend. (The button is on your right...)

In the introduction there is a (beautiful, of course) map of China. The places that we are going to visit are marked on the map with evocative pictures. When you first lay eyes on the map, you cannot wait to visit all of these exotic places with Kylie, and pick up some Chinese cooking tips along the way!

The first chapter is called, "Guangdong: Going Home." Guangdong is where our tour of China begins, because this is where Kylie's ancestors are from...she is visiting the old home and meeting relatives for the first time. (She was born and raised in Australia.) And, of course she shops and cooks with all of her newly discovered cousins. Actually, she shops and cooks her way across China in places like Shanghai, Lhasa, and Tiger Leaping Gorge!

There really is too much going on in this over the top book to fit into this post, so I will hit a few of my favorite spots. First, the terracotta army. Are you familiar with this? It is an active archaeological expedition featuring hundreds of horses, warriors and weapons (see the picture) that are believed to be guarding the grave of the first emperor of the united China.

And, of course, when she is in Xi'an to see the terra cotta army Kylie hits the food destinations! She visits the Xi'an main mosque in the Muslim quarter - and we get a recipe for lamb skewers. She visits the kitchen of a small restaurant, and gets us a recipe for Stir-fried Green Chilies and Garlic.

Although it is hard to choose, I would have to say that my second favorite locale that Kylie introduces us to is the Naxi village of Dayan. The Naxi are an ethnic group and Dayan is their old, old is like an Asian Venice with lovely canals spanned by carved stone bridges. Thre are plants and red paper lanterns everywhere! Kylie gets us a recipe called "Naxi-Style Chicken with Chilies, Green Pepper and Peanuts. This is one of the recipes that I made, and it got the seal of approval from my kids - no small feat.

Actually, I learned the basics of Chinese cooking from this book, and now I can "free-style" with whatever vegetables and meats that I have on hand. I learned to heat the peanut oil in the wok "until it shimmers." I learned to add a little sugar to savory dishes. Kylie is a relaxed and enthusiastic Chinese cook, and it is contagious! This book has really enhanced my life because now I can confidently turn out quick, beautiful Chinese dishes!


  1. What a great post. I've always wanted to see the terracotta army -- what an incredible thing. This sounds like my kind of cookbook, one that gives you a real sense of place.

  2. The terra cotta army is definitely on my bucket list of things to see! Thanks for the comment, you can see, I do not have too many yet!

    BTW, I think Weekend Cooking is a cool idea, combining reading and cooking - two things a lot of us love :) Thanks again!

  3. Thanks for such an interesting post! Welcome to Weekend Cooking!

  4. Peggy-thank you so much! I am having fun with this and already have a cool plan for "Weekend Cooking" this Sunday! Libby

  5. Last year we went to see the Warrior exhibit in Toronto, Ontario. It was fantastic. I wish they had included more of the warriors, but it must have been difficult to transport then half way across thw world. This sounds like a good book. Thanks.

  6. I didn't even KNOW there was a traveling Warrior exhibit! I am going to look online and see if it is coming to anywhere that I am going to be. THANK YOU for reading my posting, by the way, I am brand new at this and I am pretty thrilled when people actually read it! :)

  7. Looks like it is not traveling at the moment, but the website is really cool. Take a look:

  8. Oh a cook book...something I should enjoy doing and don't...but glad it helped you as I do love the food...