June 25, 2008

Review: ‘Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper’ Foods

Duck tongues. Pig's kidneys. Rabbit ears. Cocktails made from the blood and bile of a freshly killed snake.

Fuchsia Dunlop has eaten them all, and in her new book, manages to transform the gross into the engrossing.

Dunlop, a London-based food writer and cookbook author who has spent more than a decade researching Chinese culinary culture, arrived in Chengdu in the early 1990s to study China's ethnic minorities, but quickly abandoned her studies to focus on food. She later became the first Westerner to train a the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine.

In "Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper" she recounts her journey from politely munching her way through goose intestines and grappling with chicken feet to truly enjoying and appreciating the food of China's Sichuan province.

But toward the end of her book, she finds herself struggling with a moral loss of appetite, torn between her omnivorousness and what she describes as a growing minefield of ethical, environmental and health issues.

She worries about the endangered species she has consumed, meat and poultry pumped full of hormones and fish from polluted waters.

"Now I've eaten my fill; I just want to go home."

- Associated Press

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