Mr. and Mrs. Hammond, Sally and Gordon that is, have produced quite one of the most sumptuous books around. Each turn of the page brings a new visual delight. Sally is an author and restaurant reviewer and has written several food and travel books. Gordon is an award-winning photographer, so the combination was bound to come up with something special.
There are lots of recipes but this is also a stunning travelogue. There is plenty of information and tips for anyone planning a foodie holiday to China. Each region has a chapter which presents popular dishes, perhaps an item about a herb or spice, and some history.
The writing is light-hearted and readable but the research has obviously been thorough. There are amusing items such as “A common wedding present in China is a set of Chopsticks. Not only is this practical, but the Chinese word for Chopsticks sounds the same as “soon son.”
The recipes are lovely and as varied as the landscape and the people of this huge country. Sally has thoughtfully included an index of dishes by course so it’s easy to browse and make a menu from several regions. All the recipes are simple to follow and all the ingredients will be easy to find in your local high street, with perhaps a trip to your nearest Chinese grocery store.
There are spicy dishes from Szechuan, rich in chillies, ginger, garlic and the famous Szechuan peppercorns, the numbing effect of which gave Sally a fright when she first encountered them. Shanghai cuisine is sweet and saucy. Mongolian Hot Pot from the Northern region is a mixed fondue that makes a spectacular but easy meal for friends. Almost every taste is represented in a colourful and fascinating way.
Every food shot is marvellous and the photographs of China and its people are enchanting. Even if you hate cooking you will still find this book a work of art. I am sure the Chinese tourist board could not have done a better job, and it’s enough to persuade anyone that the next big trip has got to be a food-finding package to China.
Bamboo – A Journey with Chinese Food
Author: Sally Hammond
Photographs: Gordon Hammond
Published by: New Holland Publishers
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018