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From the humble takeaway to the high-end restaurants of a big-city Chinatown, Chinese food can be found everywhere in the world. But the meals on offer merely scratch the surface of a rich and diverse culinary tradition that stretches over 5,000 years of history and over several continents.
In The Emperor's Feast, author and presenter Jonathan Clements serves up the history of China not according to emperors or battles, but according to its food and drink. This unique history takes us from the rudimentary grain stews of the Bronze Age to the globalised restaurants of the 21st century, revealing how developments in politics, culture and technology created the ingredients, dishes and eating habits that define Chinese food today. We see the influence of invaders such as the Mongols and the Manchus, and discover how food - like the fiery cuisine of Sichuan or the hardy dishes of the north - often became a stand-in for regional and national identities. We also follow Chinese flavours to the shores of Europe and America, where enterprising chefs and home cooks created new traditions and dishes unheard of in the homeland.
From dim sum to mooncakes to General Tso's chicken, The Emperor's Feast shows us that the story of Chinese food is ultimately the story of a nation: not just the one that history tells us, but also the one that China tells about itself.