“In cooking class, I learned a startling array of things. Eating fish head will repair your brain cells. Spicy food is good for your complexion. Monosodium glutamate is best thrown in a dish just before it comes off the wok. Americans are fat because they eat bread, while Chinese are slim because they eat rice. If you work as a cook in America for three years, you can come back to China and buy a house.”Jen Lin-Liu was a Fullbright scholar and is a food critic and the co-author of Frommer’s Beijing. And though Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China (Harcourt) would be engaging at any time, with the Olympics just moments away, it moves from interesting foody travel book to one of the must-reads of the season.
Even if you plan to get no closer to Beijing than your television, Serve the People will fill in some of the blanks with a great deal of style. Not only does Lin-Liu know this material, she can cook and she can write.
Serve the People is terrific. It might change your view of China, in a good way. And just in the nick of time.