Brain Food Book Review of "Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China"

I’m pretty sure I stumbled upon this book while going through the recommendations section of Amazon.  It sounded interesting so I added it to my “books to read” notebook page that I keep in Evernote.  A few weeks later, I picked it up from the library.  It’s one girl’s tale of how she went back to her parents’ native China, attended a cooking course there and worked both as a cook in several extremely varied environments and as a food critic.  It also explores the current culinary culture in China and provides recipes for many of the dishes she talks about (!).

I liked the book a lot.  It was an interesting peek into a culture that admittedly I know very little about and regional food styles with which I am extremely intrigued.  I adore Chinese food (I adore most Asian cuisines, really) and I wanted to develop more of an understanding about it.  This book gave me a bit of a start with that.  Also, as a fellow foodie and culinary student (of sorts; I admit, I have limited interest in trying the commercial side of cooking), it was fun to read about someone else’s trials, tribulations and triumps (like when she eventually masters hand-made noodles!) and learning about what goes on in the kitchens of other countries (there’s a fabulous little section on the history of and current attitudes towards MSG, for instance).  Being that the book details her life from 2005 onward, it was also nice to read a contemporary perspective.  I also appreciated that Lin-Lui also often translated the price of things from yen to dollars….and let me tell you, when she does, it’s a serious wake-up call about the difference in economy between here and there.

All around a fun, informative read.  I highly suggest.

“Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China” by Jen Lin-Liu

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