Monday, June 09, 2008

Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: An Earnest Summation

There were some pre-dinner hysterics, and one member of our family skipped the meal, preferring to retreat upstairs and nurse grievances involving. . . everything. These pre-teen miseries seem to balloon instantly from the very specific (Owen left his Transformers on my bed!) to the all-encompassing: No one UNDERSTANDS!

Honey, I totally understand. You're driving me nuts, but I do, totally, understand.

In any case, there were only three of us there to somberly eat the final Fuchsia Dunlop banquet.

Highlights included:
  • Braised Beef and Potatoes (like the darkest, most intense pot roast you have ever encountered; verging on too spicy)
  • Pounded eggplant with green peppers (mild, agreeable)
  • Homestyle tofu (another Mao favorite; bright red; verging on too spicy)
  • Fried rice with Tianjin preserved vegetables
Pretty good food! Nonetheless, Owen -- perhaps empowered by his temporary status as 'easy' child -- made a bid for toast and yogurt. I was too weary to argue. As I write this, he is energetically dismantling our living room. I am too weary to argue.

But tomorrow, kids, watch out.

So, the earnest summation of Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook.

I made 32 dishes from Dunlop's book:

Flat-out bad: 6
So-so: 9
Good: 13
Great: 3
Worth the Price of the Book: 1

Not an awful performance, but not terrific. As I've said before, I love Dunlop's writing, love her spirit of inquiry -- but I think the recipes could use some polish.

Now I intend to hang up my wok for a while and move on to a new cuisine. The next cookbook was chosen by Isabel, and includes recipes that call for exotic ingredients like heavy cream, lettuce, Parmesan cheese, chocolate, and hazelnut oil.


  1. Onward and Upward. I have no doubts that the cook will sneak in a few surprises, and even now is looking for recipes that startle and challenge her audience amid the cream, cheese and chocolate. Mac and cheese with cardomom anyone? Beancake with chocolate covering? Lotus seeds in hazelnut oil?

    We await the next chapter.

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