Eight years ago, cookbook writer Fuchsia Dunlop visited the famous Dragon Well Manor restaurant on a farm in the borders of Hangzhou, a historical capital of China whose cooking customs date right back centuries.
The restaurant’s purveyors scoured the tiny facilities into the country of this Lower Yangtze area — called Jiangnan, “south for the river” — when it comes to freshest produce, pork and chicken. They harvested wild meals, fermented greens and tubers, and made rich broths to add level and umami flavor versus depend on MSG. Plus they studiously avoided the industrially produced meals that have been feeding a burgeoning urban population and sparking some food security scares and a consumer backlash for “green” meals.
But Dragon Well Manor, which she first described in an article for New Yorker, ended up being doing something else that caught Dunlop’s interest. it had been restoring Chinese cuisine to its “rightful dignity, ” she says, by celebrating meals practices which were dropping surface in the face of modernity, by balancing enjoyment with health insurance and by emphasizing meals’ ben wei, “the crucial style of things.”
Now, that visit to the location — among others so many the British publisher has actually lost count — bear fruit in her own newest cookbook, “Land of Fish and Rice.” A perfect and marvelously step-by-step work, the guide is named the Chinese term for area that reflects its plentiful water and fertile farmland. It encompasses Shanghai in addition to Nanjing, Shaoxing (where the popular cooking wine arises from) and Zhenjiang (home of the rich black colored vinegar present plenty sauces), along with bygone capitals such as Hangzhou and Yangzhou, each of that has a storied cooking past.
Silken Tofu With Soy Sauce (Xiao Cong Ban Dou Fu). (Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post)
“whilst every and each Chinese cuisine has its charms, ” Dunlop writes into the guide, “from the dazzling technicolor of spices associated with the Sichuanese toward belly-warming noodle bowls of the north, i am aware of hardly any other that may put one’s heart such at ease since the meals regarding the Jiangnan.”