The food of Taiwan has been the subject of a number of recent books, such as Frankie Gaw’s First Generation and Clarissa Wei’s Made in Taiwan. Chop Fry Watch Learn by Michelle King joins them, although it is a scholarly work, rather than providing recipes. While the first  two do also include cultural, historical, and personal background, Michelle King’s work delves deeper as it follows the journey of Fu Pei-Mei, one of the first TV presenters on food and author of bilingual Chinese cookbooks.

Anyone familiar with Fuchsia Dunlop’s work would surely take up any “Invitation to a Banquet” from her. For those unfamiliar with her oeuvre, she has previously written four cookbooks and a memoir covering her time apprenticing at a Sichuanese cooking school, where she was the only non-Chinese student and one of only a handful of women in training; several of these have been nominated for and won awards in the food and travel spheres.

The “six” in Dinner for Six is the number at the assembled table when a Chinese widow and widower form a temporary family with their respective son and daughter each. Author Lu Min, in this translation from Nicky Harman and Helen Wang, first focuses on the widow’s son Ash, who becomes shaped by all the sympathy from the community after his father’s death. This death itself is not addressed for the point of interest is the Crossroads, a neighborhood in the shadow of factories. 

Green Tea with Milk and Sugar is, at least at first, a perplexing title: the green teas I grew up with and came to know from China and Japan were taken hot and without any additives. Then again, I consume a fair amount of matcha latte, and if the menus of the local bubble tea shops are anything to go by, adding milk and sugar is quite commonplace, and not restricted to the black teas of British traditions imagined from novels. Historian and author Robert Hellyer has a personal connection to this history of green tea drinking in the US, as both his grandmothers kept green tea for nicer occasions, and a grandfather was actually involved in importing teas from Japan.

“Deconstructing the layout of China was difficult, but food showed me the way.” At the Chinese Table is memoir by Carolyn Phillips, whose previous book cataloguing 35 regional cuisines of China was nominated for a James Beard award. Books on Chinese cuisine abound, and recently Fuschia Dunlop lay claim to being the Westerner most embedded and prolific on regional Chinese cuisine through attending cooking school in Chengdu, so it was fascinating to learn how Phillips became intrigued by Asia enough to become a self-taught expert in Chinese food, under the tutelage of her very particular epicure husband.