Beyond the Great Wall

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9781579653019: Beyond the Great Wall

WINNER OF THE 2009 JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL COOKBOOK AWARD

WINNER OF THE 2009 IACP BEST INTERNATIONAL COOKBOOK AWARD

A bold and eye-opening new cookbook with magnificent photos and unforgettable stories.

In the West, when we think about food in China, what usually comes to mind are the signature dishes of Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai. But beyond the urbanized eastern third of China lie the high open spaces and sacred places of Tibet, the Silk Road oases of Xinjiang, the steppelands of Inner Mongolia, and the steeply terraced hills of Yunnan and Guizhou. The peoples who live in these regions are culturally distinct, with their own history and their own unique culinary traditions. In Beyond the Great Wall, the inimitable duo of Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid―who first met as young travelers in Tibet―bring home the enticing flavors of this other China.

For more than twenty-five years, both separately and together, Duguid and Alford have journeyed all over the outlying regions of China, sampling local home cooking and street food, making friends and taking lustrous photographs. Beyond the Great Wall shares the experience in a rich mosaic of recipes―from Central Asian cumin-scented kebabs and flatbreads to Tibetan stews and Mongolian hot pots―photos, and stories. A must-have for every food lover, and an inspiration for cooks and armchair travelers alike.

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From the Inside Flap:

In the West, when we think about food in China, what usually comes to mind are the signature dishes of Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai. But beyond these urbanized eastern areas lies the other China: the high open spaces and sacred places of Tibet, the Silk Road oases of Xinjiang and Qinghai, the steppelands of Inner Mongolia, and the steeply terraced hills of Yunnan and Guizhou. The people who live in these regions—Tibetans, Mongols, Uighurs, Iiao, Hui, Dong, Yi, Da, and others—are culturally distinct, with their own history and culinary traditions.

In Beyond the Great Wall, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid—who met and fell in love as young travelers in Tibet—bring home the enticing flavors of these outlying areas of China. This eye-opening collection of magnificent photos, delectable home-style recipes, and inviting stories of people and places is a journey into a fascinating area of the world. China has gradually opened its more remote regions to foreign travel over the last twenty-five years. And in that period, Jeffrey and Naomi have traveled and eaten and photographed in mountain villages and border towns, in nomad yurts, in oases along the Silk Road, in local markets. They've tasted satisfying and delicious dishes at family meals and at small restaurants (that are in fact household kitchens putting out a menu). They've learned techniques from home cooks and market vendors: to shape noodles quickly and easily, to make warming family soups, easy stir-fries, succulent pulaos, and aromatic grilled kebabs.

Food is so much a part of place, and this family-style food is extraordinarily good. Like the traditional regional cooking of rural France and Italy, it is comfort food, with direct flavors that speak to the heart and simple ingredients treated with respect. There are cumin-scented chicken kebabs; pea tendrils dressed with sesame oil and dark vinegar; lamb patties with chopped green herbs; slices of spice-rubbed roast pork; enticing salsas and condiments; and succulent noodles of many kinds, served in aromatic broth or dressed wth lively sauces. Some of this food comes from Central Asian culinary tradition, with its pulaos, flatbreads, and kebabs. Uighur nans and Tibetan momos remind us that the Indian Subcontinent is just across the Himalaya. Other dishes, especially those from the peoples of southern Yunnan and Guizhou, are close counsins of the Southeast Asian foods that Jeffrey and Naomi introduced us to in the influential Hot Sour Salty Sweet.

These rich culinary cultures reflect not only layers of flavor, but also layers of history. Naomi and Jeffrey here document the traditions of the people living beyond the Great Wall at a time when these are threatened by the fast pace of change in modern China. And in Beyond the Great Wall the authors celebrate that other China, its diverse cultures, appealing food traditions, and vibrant daily life, with the passion and color it deserves—a must-have for every food lover, and an inspiration for home cooks and armchair travelers.

About the Author:

Jeffrey Alford is a writer and photographer based primarily in northeast Thailand and Cambodia. He plants and harvests rice each year; helps raise frogs and several varieties of fish; and happily struggles along in three languages: Central Thai, Lao Isaan, and Northern Khmer. His forthcoming book, to be published in 2014, is tentatively titled How Pea Cooks: Food and Life in a Thai-Khmer Village. His earlier books, all co-written with Naomi Duguid, are Flatbreads and Flavors;HomeBaking; Seductions of Rice; Hot Sour Salty Sweet; Mangoes and Curry Leaves; and Beyond the Great Wall. Jeffrey is currently developing a series of intensive culinary tours through northeastern Thailand and western Cambodia (the Angkor Wat area) under the name of Heritage Food Thailand.

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