Update on New Cookbook: The Food of Taiwan

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For the last eight and a half years, I’ve been writing here and elsewhere about my main passion in life: not eating out in New York. You must know plenty about that. Fortunately, the topic of home cooking is infinite; there is no end to delicious (and budget-friendly, healthy, seasonal and sustainable-minded) recipes that can be cooked up, or avenues to explore within this broad realm (urban farmingforaging?). Or, indeed, books to read and write about it. I’ve taken a passion for the evergreen topic of home cooking to book form again, and it comes out Tuesday. It’s an exploration of the food from a country where my mom was born and raised, and thus informs much of my home cooking, too. It’s The Food of Taiwan.

I’ve been much too quiet about it on this blog, so now we’re letting it rip. There’s a weird tension in between knowing your book is supposedly going to be published, and actually holding it in your hands. This book took an especially long journey to publication—much longer than The Art of Eating In—because it entailed so many photographs, traveling, recipe-testing (or rather, recipe-test partying), and production. And it was held up in publisher-seeking limbo for a couple years in between. No, really. Fortunately, my saving-grace editor, Justin Schwartz at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt cookbooks, decided that it was because the story of Taiwanese food had not been fully told in America that they should publish it, rather than that being evidence that they shouldn’t. Do you agree?

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A sneak peek from the cookbook, photographed by Pete Lee
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Just what is this? Check out The Food of Taiwan to find out!

I’m going to be on traveling a bit again for events to celebrate it. Come join, and keep up with new announcements on the book’s Facebook page. We’re starting off the week with a couple radio talks:

-On 3/22, instead of me drilling an incredible author for my podcast Eat Your Words, Heritage Radio Network’s Executive Director Erin Fairbanks will be drilling… me! We’ll have photographer Pete Lee on the line, too.

-On 3/24, The Leonard Lopate Show will welcome me on air! Listen live starting 12:40pm EST.

-And that night, 3/24, we’re holding a panel discussion on “The Taiwanese Table” at the Greene Space. Seats sold out, but you can actually watch the show live online (a video box will appear on that event page starting at 7pm EST).

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That time with the Taiwanese water buffalo
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A charming Sanxia street scene

I have been thanking a bunch of people who helped out with this book (my family and friends, most of all). But I also owe a ton to all the amazing cookbook authors who I’ve had the privilege of interviewing here or on Heritage Radio over the years. It was certainly a convenient hobby for me, learning about their trials and tribulations and seeing their incredible finished books, week after week, for the podcast. And I’m especially proud of all the food writers who helped pave the way for Asian cuisines in cookbooks. If it weren’t for their work in thoughtfully sharing Asian home-cooking with US audiences—demystifying and making them more authentic, accessible and fun—I think my book proposal would still be sitting in some editor’s slush pile.

So, here’s a playlist for the weeks that I’ll be away. We’re revisiting some “classic” Heritage podcasts featuring some greats. Check them out!

Asian Cookbook Author Interview Playlist:

Eat Your Words with Farina Wong Kingsley, author & founder of Farina’s Asian Kitchen

Eat Your Words with Andrea Nguyen, on her then-latest book Asian Tofu

Eat Your Words with Aliya Leekong, author of Exotic Table

Eat Your Words with Hiroko Shimbo, on her latest book Hiroko’s American Kitchen 

Eat Your Words with Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat, co-authors of Japanese Soul Cooking

Recipe-Browsing List in the Meantime, Too:

Old-fashioned ban wan recipe -Lucky Peach

Pan-Fried Leek Buns -Serious Eats 

My first recipe for gua bao (pork belly buns), 2011 on NEOINY

More to come! Hope to come away of these launch events with many more recipes to share. And, to come away from them having met you!

8 Responses

  1. chris
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    Looks beautiful! Excited about the book!

  2. GermanFoodie
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    That sounds great and I cant wait to have a look of it. One of my dearest friends is taiwanese and maybe it makes a good present for her and a bunch of new recipes for me in my kitchen.
    Cant believe that you are single. Just browsing through your blog reading your passionate writing would make me marry you in an instant.

  3. Cathy Erway
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    @GermanFoodie, now that is my kind of comment!! Thanks and yes, hope your Taiwanese friends enjoy!

  4. Danny Lin
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    Thanks for the great work, Cathy! I found the info of the book from TaiwaneseAmerican.org actually. One of the hardest things is to explain what it is about Taiwanese food in English to my non-Taiwanese friends! Now ‘The Food of Taiwan’ rescues me totally. LOL.

    By the way, Pete Lee is a talented photographer. His photos added a lot of value to ‘The Food of Taiwan’ making the food of Taiwan looked so delicious!

  5. Allison
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    A friend told me about the TW cookbook after I raved about your 3 cup chicken recipe on Serious Eats. (Even my mother in law who is Taiwanese asked me for the recipe after she tasted it)!! So Then I ordered the book! Now I’m inspired to cook through the book! Hooray for Asian cookbooks written in English! 🙂

  6. Cathy Erway
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    @DannyLin, awesome! Yes, Pete Lee is amazing and I’m so glad that his work helped capture the heart and soul of not just the food of Taiwan, but its people and culture so well. Glad that it’s helping you explain things more! 🙂

    @Allison: Yay! I heart 3 Cup Chicken as well and I’m so glad you fell in love with it, too!

  7. Charlotte
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    Ooh! ooh! OOh! I spent a winter in Taipei in the late 1980s (when there was NO signage in English — *that* was interesting) and the food. Oh, the food. Such fabulous food that I miss — I still eat “egg bing” several mornings a week with a flour tortilla in place of the pancake. Sign me up to purchase an early copy …

  8. Michelle
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    I’m a longtime reader of your blog. Thank you for writing this book! I also have family in Taiwan and recently returned from a trip there. This is exactly what I need — recipes in English to recreate all the delicious things I’ve tried there!

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