Chinese food is more diverse than Western eaters might think

by Ella

About a decade ago, this correspondent attended a banquet in Guangzhou. The bird’s nest soup was gentle and slithery, the sea cucumber rich and gelatinous and the fish sparklingly fresh and perfectly steamed. The most memorable dish, however, was the plain white cup of broth served at the end. Made from chicken, probably with ham and dried scallop as well, it was simple, austere and perfect.

Ending a banquet with soup may seem odd to Westerners, accustomed as they are to sweets at a meal’s close. But, as Fuchsia Dunlop, an English food writer, explains in an authoritative new book, stock is a unique, intrinsic expression of a chef’s art, much as a voice is for a singer. And the “transparent, almost invisible soup…in its quiet golden, ineffable loveliness” is an ideal conclusion to a banquet, with its opulence and strong flavours.




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