Summary and book reviews of At the Chinese Table by Carolyn Phillips

At the Chinese Table

A Memoir with Recipes

by Carolyn Phillips

At the Chinese Table by Carolyn Phillips X
At the Chinese Table by Carolyn Phillips
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  • Published:
    Jun 2021, 304 pages

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Book Summary

Part memoir of life in Taiwan, part love story―a beautifully told account of China's brilliant cuisines…with recipes.

At the Chinese Table describes in vivid detail how, during the 1970s and '80s, celebrated cookbook writer and illustrator Carolyn Phillips crosses China's endless cultural and linguistic chasms and falls in love. During her second year in Taipei, she meets scholar and epicurean J. H. Huang, who nourishes her intellectually over luscious meals from every part of China. And then, before she knows it, Carolyn finds herself the unwelcome candidate for eldest daughter-in-law in a traditional Chinese family.

This warm, refreshingly candid memoir is a coming-of-age story set against a background of the Chinese diaspora and a family whose ancestry is intricately intertwined with that of their native land. Carolyn's reticent father-in-law―a World War II fighter pilot and hero―eventually embraces her presence by showing her how to re-create centuries-old Hakka dishes from family recipes. In the meantime, she brushes up on the classic cuisines of the North in an attempt to win over J. H.'s imperious mother, whose father had been a warlord's lieutenant. Fortunately for J. H. and Carolyn, the tense early days of their relationship blossom into another kind of cultural and historical education as Carolyn masters both the language and many of China's extraordinary cuisines.

With illustrations and twenty-two recipes, At the Chinese Table is a culinary adventure like no other that captures the diversity of China's cuisines, from the pen of a world-class scholar and gourmet.

Line drawings throughout.

Coming Soon.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Author Blurb Kevin Pang, America's Test Kitchen
I can count on one hand the number of people I trust about Chinese gastronomy. Carolyn Phillips is one of them. The richness and scholarship she has brought to my people's food culture is evident in every illuminating page of At the Chinese Table. I don't have enough hands to count how often I'll return to this book.

Author Blurb Laurie Woolever, coauthor, with Anthony Bourdain, of World Travel: An Irreverent Guide
At the Chinese Table is a cookbook, a memoir, an exquisitely rendered history lesson, and a love story, written with enchanting warmth, intelligence, humor, and respect.

Author Blurb Naomi Duguid, author of Taste of Persia and Burma: Rivers of Flavor
What a seductive read!…Caroline Phillips takes us into another world, with lively details, humorous self-deprecation, and enticing line drawings. It's a world of family stories, cultural traditions, and delicious food of great depth and variety. Her curiosity and appetite for understanding and her engaging storytelling transported me effortlessly.

Reader Reviews

Ariel F. (Madison, WI)

Outstanding memoir/recipe book
I found this a fascinating read. I was especially impressed that a white woman, who was a minority in that country, learned the language and then married a native. Learning the language, in itself was an accomplishment.Her writing,illustrations, and ...   Read More
Jo K. (Saratoga, CA)

A joy to read
Carolyn Phillip's memoir with recipes is fascinating and wonderful to read. Her passion and love for the Chinese cultures, cuisines and people is palpable on every page. Her stories are all very interesting and so well written and the illustrations ...   Read More
Vicki - www.beachwalkbooktalks.com

Memoir in Food
If you enjoy memoirs and love food, this is the book for you. Carolyn Phillips, author of the cookbook All Under Heaven, has given us another wonderful book, this one about her time, travel, love and life in Taiwan. Phillips, a white American, ...   Read More
Gloria K. (Madison, WI)

"Close Your Eyes and Taste This"
To close your eyes and taste something can be a leap of faith! Carolyn Phillips, author of At the Chinese Table proved her ability to take a leap of faith in both her career and personal life. She left the USA and moved to Taiwan as a graduate ...   Read More

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