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.

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.

Like clockwork, every year around the spring equinox, as the ducks and egrets return to the rivers and sprigs of green grass begin sprouting in lawns, people in Japan take to the hills to pick mountain vegetables, herbs and other wild foods. As translator and writer Winifred Bird explains in her new book, Eating Wild Japan: Tracking the Culture of Foraged Foods, with a Guide to Plants and Recipes, there is no common Japanese phrase that corresponds precisely to the English terms “wild food” or “foraged food”.

The French philosopher Jacques Derrida once described his idea of absolute hospitality as follows:

 

Absolute hospitality requires that I open up my home and that I give not only the foreigner, but to the absolute, unknown, anonymous other, and that I give place to them, that I let them come, that I let them arrive, and take place in the place I offer them, without asking of them either reciprocity (entering in a pact) or even their names.