The Yunnan Cookbook

From the yaks which graze at altitudes so high that vegetables cannot grow, and the paradise of Shangri-La, through the flower markets of Kunming, the dramatic tea terraces of Pu-er, and forest floors covered with wild mushrooms; to the tropical south where market stalls brim with brilliant red chillies and shimmering purple eggplants.

Yunnan, an exotic land of former kingdoms which borders Tibet, Sichuan, Burma, Vietnam and Laos, is the most bio-diverse province in China. It is quite possibly the most beautiful part of the country, and also the most culturally rich. Each ethnic minority has its own distinct cooking ingredients, aromas and flavours — all brought together for the first time in this unique cookbook. The Recipes — Centre stage is cross the bridge noodles , a famous and much beloved dish (parts of the province are particularly famous for the quality of their rice noodles, having to do both with water and quality of rice), and there are also recipes showing off the marvellous produce — the mushrooms (fresh and dried), vegetables in general, and those wild ones including ferns.

Recipes are a combination of traditional recipes sourced from a diverse range of people, with ‘innovative/contemporary’ recipes taking their inspiration from produce. We conjure up the market, and discover how local people use the produce, but how other nationalities might use it, too. We ameliorate recipes using modern taste and knowledge.

The Cuisines — We take five main ethnic minorities, each of which has their own capital or kingdom in Yunnan, including the cooking of Kunming which is perhaps more Han but still very varied and interesting: DAI — Jinghong; BAI — Dali; NAXI — Lijiang; WA — Lincang; TIBETAN — Shangri-La; plus HAN — Kunming. Box text on different food aspects of Yunnan includes: foraging for mushrooms; the story behind Yunnan ham (the most famous and perhaps best is produced by the family of Deng Xiaoping s wife); organic tea production; vine growing. Recipes are interspersed with background essays: small essays on each ethnic group — traditions and traits; background of Yunnan — natural beauty, flowers, agriculture; festival foods, including Lunar New Year celebrations. Photography —

Besides recipe shots, the ‘Yunnan Cookbook’ includes portraits — written and photographed — of someone involved in food production from each of the ethnic groups.

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