Saturday, September 01, 2007

A New York Times review of Nicole Mones’s new novel “The Last Chinese Chef” leads with a photo of an illustrated menu from somewhere in China, judging by the simplified characters and prices. To most NY Times readers, the photo probably seems fairly appropriate to the review since the core of the novel is supposed to be about "the unique tangle of Chinese food and culture, and the ways both have been influenced by the country’s volatile political history."

Except the food in the picture isn't Chinese, it's a collection of typical Taiwanese dishes including (from left to right) Taiwanese-style sticky rice dumplings in lotus leaf, Tainan-style pole vendor noodles, braised pork on rice (practically Taiwan's national dish), Hakka Meatball soup (a Hsinchu specialty now found everywhere on the island), fried rice noodles, beef noodles (an invention of Sichuan soldiers exiled in Taiwan), and Taiwanese-style fried noodles.

The pairing of a review of a book about Chinese food with photos of typically Taiwanese dishes demonstrates beautifully how the significant Taiwanese presence in China is invisible to the West looking at China.


dan said...

Good catch. Good eye. The New York Times? That's a great catch! I sent your post to the food editor at the Times and also to Jennifer 8. Lee who is writing a book about Chinese food, due out next winter, March 2008, and she came to Taiwan for an interview with Chef Pang, too. She has a blog somewhere called FORTUNE COOKIE or something. Google her name and book.

dan said...