The Emperor’s Feast: A History of China in Twelve Meals – Jonathan Clements


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Author and presenter Jonathan Clements serves up the history of China – not according to emperors or battles, but according to its food and drink.

Stretching over 5,000 years and several continents, The Emperor’s Feast tracks different ingredients, dishes and eating habits across both time and geography, shaped by China’s political, cultural and technological evolution and remarkable entrance onto the world stage.

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 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 us about itself.


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