Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mission Statement

It's cliche now; spend a year or so cooking all the recipes in some cookbook, blogging all the way.  Heck, there's even been a movie about it.  Cliche or no, the process can be useful to the cook as a learning tool, especially when the book focuses on a particular technique or style.  Three years ago, during my last sabbatical, I cooked my way through Molly Stevens's excellent All About Braising learning, well, all about braising, and picking up a few other techniques along the way.

I have, for some time, been interested in learning about classical Chinese food (not the Americanized style).  Unfortunately, for some time, my interest did not turn into action, and it is now clear that drastic measures, in the form of a cooking-thru-a-cookbook-blog, must be taken.

The next question is, which book?  The answer is actually fairly obvious: Fu Pei Mei's Chinese Cookbook (vol 1-3).  Fu Pei Mei is called the Julia Child of China all over the place, and aside from having respected books with a traditional perspective, her similarity to Saint Julia in these post-Julie&Julia  days makes the symmetry impossible to resist.   The idea is so obvious, that others have beaten me to it. But no matter, this is a learning exercise after all.

Pei Mei's books have been, from the beginning, written in both Chinese and English.  I don't know why she did that, since she was writing for a Chinese audience in Taiwan, but it is useful for me.  Oddly, despite  the book first appearing in 1965 and my edition dating from 2008, the English versions of the recipes have difficulties.  Some details are left out, and some translations are garbled.  So a side quest of this blog will be to revise and edit the English recipes in the book, thus the second sense of "fixing" in the blog title.

I must note that I will have a partner in crime in this endeavor.  Although she might do less of the cooking, she will do all of the translating, and at least half of the eating.  Without her, this effort would be impossible.

A final note of approach.  There will be no "modernizing" of the recipes.  If Pei Mei calls for lard, she'll get lard, and if she calls for fish intestine, she'll get fish intestine.  This means I probably won't get to do the Shark Fin's Soup, alas. 

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