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At the Chinese Table by Carolyn Phillips

At the Chinese Table

A Memoir with Recipes

by Carolyn Phillips
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  • First Published:
  • Jun 15, 2021
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Page 4 of 4
There are currently 25 member reviews
for At the Chinese Table
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  • Ilene M. (Longmont, CO)
    Abook for serious foodies
    While the book is touted as one for readers interested in Chinese cuisine, I found the most interesting part was Carolyn Phillips gutsy move to Taiwan after college and her even gutsier move to integrate herself into a Chinese family. Not an easy feat, but she seemed to be able to relate to her boyfriend/husband's mother through her efforts to entice her mother-in-law with native foods. Bravo for her!
  • Peggy A. (Morton Grove, IL)
    A Gutsy Life and a Gutsy Stomach
    This did not seem like the book for me. Although I have traveled to China and thought this book would grab my attention, it failed to do so. Probably this is due to my lack of specialized, esoteric details of the 35 different cuisines in China.
    I did however appreciate her youthful independence and gutsy approach to moving overseas at such a young age with little command of the language.
    I also loved the drawings depicted on at least a quarter of the pages. The author seemed very closely attuned to the physical and natural world around her.
  • Sandra C. (Rensselaer, NY)
    At the Chinese Table
    The title of the book caught my attention as there are not too many Chinese cookbooks compared with other cuisines. At the beginning of the book I was drawn into the authors life. However I thought her family history became convoluted and deeply entrenched with Chinese history. For me I wanted to hear about her life and not about the history of China. True to the authors intent the recipes were for authentic Chinese food, not what the American palate has grown to expect.
  • Jennifer H. (Los Angeles, CA)
    Beautiful food writing, but dated and appropriative
    While Phillips has a true gift in her ability to describe foods with tantalizing detail and convey the sensual experiences of each dish, the book is incredibly self-aggrandizing and appropriative. She conveys dated exoticized concepts of the "other" when she shares her initial experiences in Taipei, and then gradually reveals her arrogantly judgmental and inflated sense of her hand in Chinese cuisine as she becomes more involved in this Chinese food culture. Ultimately there is a complete lack of deference and humility - an utter lack of awareness of her role in the larger part of the world that she seeks to authoritatively explain. She ends the book by claiming that more Westerners need to learn Chinese so that they can become "cultural conduits" of Chinese cuisine like she is. Um, does she not realize that tons of Chinese people speak English? Or that there are tons of Chinese immigrants in the West? Overall, this is not worth reading. Our globalized world provides many more platforms and options for people to authentically share their different cultures without have to endure the myth of inherent exceptionalism within this book.

Beyond the Book:
  Hakka Cuisine

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