Not Quite a Book Review: “The Chinese Festive Board” by Corrinne Lamb

"Gastronomical Map of China" as published in "The Chinese Festive Board." Click the image for more detail...

Originally published in 1935, “The Chinese Festive Board” offers a brief-yet-comprehensive overview of Chinese cuisine, including etiquette, sample menus and an impressively extensive food glossary. The core of the book, however, is its collection of 50 recipes, which addresses the basic foundation of Chinese cookery. The specific edition of “The Chinese Festive Board” that I found was a sturdy paperback from 1985, published by Oxford Press Hong Kong, and featuring the pictogram map presented above (this clever line-drawing provides the design for both of the book’s end-pages). Outside information about the author, Corrinne Lamb, is surprisingly scarce, and she never specifically mentions how she was able to spend 20 years eating through China. Perhaps she was the wife of a dignitary? It’s my best guess. Still, Lamb’s account of Chinese cuisine is vivid, thorough and thought-out, and never condescending, even for 1935.

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