Here at WildChina, we’re not just a travel company. We go beyond just showing people a destination by fostering a deeper understanding and perception of a place and the people we find there. In the time of COVID-19, we’re doing that through a brand-new online series, WildChina On-Air. These talks and discussions are a forum for us to share with you a different side of China than may be expressed through mainstream media or in the news.
We’re going to take you beyond the headlines to discover the food, culture, history, language, and reality of life in China. We’re going to encourage you to ask questions, to read something new, and to hear a different perspective on what may seem like a well-known topic.
So far, we’ve talked to Patrick Cranley and Amy Chua. Coming up next is a special one for the foodies out there. We’re sitting down with none other than Fuchsia Dunlop, one of the leading voices in Chinese food today.
Next WildChina On-Air: In Conversation With… Fuchsia Dunlop
When: May 28th, 2020. 12pm PDT | 3pm EST | 8pm BST
All About Fuchsia
We’ve been fans of Fuchsia Dunlop since she wrote her first book, Sichuan Cookery, back in 2001. Ten years later, she began regularly hosting two of our expert-led journeys throughout Sichuan and China. Her legendary journeys Gastronomic Tour of China with Fuchsia Dunlop and Yunnan Gastronomic Tour with Fuchsia Dunlop are consistently sold out a year before departure.
Our travelers say it’s the combination of her down-to-earth (and hilarious) nature, her extensive knowledge of Chinese food, and her determined passion to share China with the world which makes her such a great host. She’s certainly been recognized around the world for her cookbooks, including winning not one but four James Beard Awards and, most recently, Fortnum & Mason’s best Cookery Book award.
Born and bred in England, Fuchsia studied at Cambridge before heading over to China on a British Council scholarship. While here, she stayed on beyond her original studies to take part in a training course at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine. And yes, she was the first ‘Westerner’ to go there.
And the rest, as they say, is history. After returning to London, Fuchsia continued to study Mandarin, Chinese cuisine, and write about her love for this mesmerizing culinary experience. She’s written for The Financial Times, Lucky Peach, Saveur, The New Yorker, Observer Food Monthly, and Gourmet. She’s been on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown (2016), Gordon Ramsey’s The F-Word, and All Things Considered on NPR.
We could go on – there are more awards and more appearances – but let’s focus on what Fuchsia loves the most: Chinese food.
Chinese Cooking for the Masses
‘Fuchsia has a rare ability to convey an encyclopaedic knowledge of Chinese cuisine in a compelling and totally delicious way.’ Heston Blumenthal
As many of her books chronicle, Fuchsia started with a love of Sichuanese cuisine. She is the author of the award-winning The Food of Sichuan (2019), Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China (2016), Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking (2012), Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China (2008), as well as Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook (2007), and, of course, Sichuan Cookery (2001) (published in the US as Land of Plenty (2003)).
Journalists, chefs, travelers, WildChina staff… people have said it over and over again: Fuchsia knows how to explain Chinese cooking in a way we’ve never experienced before. She makes the spiciest of Sichuan cuisine accessible and does so with a story alongside.
We’ll give you a taste of what it’s like to hear Fuchsia talk about Chinese cuisine:
8 years ago, we hosted an event in Beijing called Where the Wild Things Are. Fuchsia, our guest of honor, served up recipes from her latest book (at the time): Every Grain of Rice. Here’s what we had to say after the event.
First up was an array of cold Chinese appetizers: smoked cucumber in a sharp garlic sauce, preserved duck eggs with sublimely silky tofu, and a dark, wood ear salad spiced with coriander.
After the teasing tastes of the first course, guests were presented with the heart and soul of the day’s feast. Succulent, sweet red-braised pork belly, Sichuanese ‘dry-fried’ green beans, fish-fragrant eggplant (a favorite), and finally, black peppered chicken. All in all, a delightful panoply of the flavors of the Middle Kingdom. As guests were enjoying the fruits and biscotti that rounded out the meal, Fuchsia took to the stage.
In her talk, Fuchsia pulled back the cover on a whole range of food issues – such as the function of food in the medical annals of China. She described the ethos of balance that permeates Chinese eating and consumption and recounted stories of her experiences taking the upper echelon of Chinese cooks to the royalty of restaurants in the west – French Laundry and Fat Duck among them. Fuchsia’s talk was sprinkled with humorous anecdotes that spoke to her deep love of Chinese food. When describing a Chinese banquet Fuchsia exclaimed, “You could do it every day!” before adding somewhat glumly, “though you probably shouldn’t…”. She is a fierce lover of tofu, much maligned by western diners, daring the audience to respond when she pronounced, “Who could ever accuse mapo doufu [a spicy tofu dish from Sichuan] of being insipid?”
Educational, amusing, and thoroughly engaging, Fuchsia’s talk was a hit from the first word to the last.
Well, that’s why we keep inviting her back. And why we’re so thrilled she’ll be joining us next week for In Conversation With…
In Conversation With… Fuchsia Dunlop
Join us on Thursday, May 28 at 8pm BST (that’s GMT+1) as Mei Zhang sits down with Fuchsia to hear more about her love for Chinese cooking and where this love has taken her. How does she cope in London at the moment without being able to travel back to Sichuan? What are her favorite ingredients? How can you best replicate her award-winning recipes while you’re cooped up at home? Well, join us live on Zoom and Facebook and find out!
Date: Thursday May 28, 2020
Time: 12pm Pacific Daylight Time | 3pm Eastern Standard Time | 8pm British Summer Time | 3am China Standard Time (May 29)
RSVP here: wildchinaonairmay28.splashthat.com
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