NüVoices Podcast Episode #111: A Conversation with Fuchsia Dunlop about her book, “Invitation to a Banquet”

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Happy Lunar New Year to all who celebrate! To kick off the year of the dragon, we have the one and only Fuchsia Dunlop on our podcast this week. She discusses her recent book, Invitation to a Banquet: The Story of Chinese Food with host Lijia Zhang.

About the book:

“The author of award-winning books such as The Food of Sichuan and Land of Fish and Rice, Fuchsia Dunlop has spent over thirty years studying Chinese food. Here, in more than 460 pages, she reveals the distinctive aspects of the Chinese approach to food, from how ingredients are chosen and the methods by which they are prepared to how food is eaten and what is considered good and satisfying.

Readers looking for a strictly chronological approach may initially be frustrated by Dunlop’s seemingly fragmented approach. But by telling the story of cha siu pork, steamed rice, fish stew, and other representative dishes, she paints an expanding picture of the way Chinese food developed, returning again and again to all that it reveals about social structure, political thought, and everyday life.

The scope of Dunlop’s account ranges from mythical origin stories to the present day, illustrated with examples from legend and history that turn broad impressions into vivid, concrete examples, whether she’s describing dishes or cooks, or recounting thousand-year-old stories of encounters between an Emperor-in-exile and a fisherwoman.”

About Fuchsia:

She is an award-winning food writer and cook specialising in Chinese cuisine. She trained as a chef at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine in the 1990s and has been researching Chinese culinary culture ever since. Fuchsia is the author of seven books including, most recently,  Invitation to a Banquet: The Story of Chinese Food, several of which have been published in Chinese translation. She is a regular contributor to FT Weekend and other publications and to radio and TV shows including Ugly Delicious and Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. Fuchsia grew up in Oxford and was educated at Cambridge University, Sichuan University and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

About our host:

Lijia Zhang is a factory-worker-turned writer, social commentator and public speaker. One of the few Chinese who write regularly in English for international publications, her articles have appeared in The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, Newsweek and The New York Times. She is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir “Socialism Is Great!” about her decade-long experience of working at a rocket factory in Nanjing and her debut novel Lotus, on prostitution in contemporary China, was published by Macmillan and was featured by BBC radio’s World Book Club. She is a recipient of the prestigious fellowship on the International Writers Program at the University of Iowa. Lijia has lectured at many conferences, institutions and universities around the world, including Asia EU Economic Forum, European Institute for Asian Studies, The University of Sydney, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford and Oxford. She is a regular speaker on the BBC, Channel 4, CNN and NPR. She divides her time between London and Beijing.