China's Food - A Photographic Journey by Reinhart Wolf
Text by Lionel Tiger


This isn't so much a recipe book (although there are recipes in it - by cookbook author Eileen Lo Yin-fei) as it is an homage to the beauty to be found in Chinese food. Of course, we're not talking about suckling pig with halved maraschino cherries for eyes (or worse, one that's lit up with flashing red lights), nor fluorescent-orange sweet and sour pork. Instead, it's the beauty that can be found in raw ingredients (the grains, vegetables and animals from which our food is derived); the simplicity of bread that's fresh from the steamer; or the promise of a good meal from a wooden tray holding uncooked dumplings.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course - some people might be repelled by the photos of cooked grasshoppers, a dried pig's head (it's actually hard to tell what it is) or fried whole rice birds (top).

Photographer Reinhart Wolf gives us close-up shots of deer antler slices, preserved chicken eggs and intricate fruit and vegetable carvings that most of us will probably never see unless we're invited to a state banquet. There are also pictures of peaceful countryside scenes that have probably now been paved over (the book was published in 1985) and photos to accompany the recipes, which include pan-fried bean curd with mushrooms; Shanghai wine chicken; sweet and sour crispy fish (it's not fluorescent orange); spicy string beans; Sichuan pickle soup with pork; and marinated spare ribs.