How to Cook and Eat Chinese

John Eng-Wong demonstrates preparation of a Chinese dish.John Eng-Wong demonstrates preparation of a Chinese dish.How to Cook and Eat Chinese
Thursday, May 10, 2012
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Faculty Club

On May 10 a cooking demonstration and conversation focused on How to Cook and Eat Chinese with John Eng-Wong.

How to Cook and Eat Chinese, first published in 1945, provided a practical guide to Chinese cooking, culture, and manners for an American audience largely unfamiliar with the country and its cuisine.  The cookbook’s author, Buwei Yang Chao, a trained doctor, learned to cook while attending medical school in Japan at the Tokyo Women’s Medical College, where she missed the food of her homeland.

Guests enjoyed a number of Chinese dishes.Guests enjoyed a number of Chinese dishes.The origins of the cookbook date back to 1940s, when Buwei lived in Cambridge with her family.  During World War II, her husband, the linguist Yuen Ren Chao led language training programs for the United States Army and Buwei prepared meals for the instructors. The wives of her husband's colleagues encouraged her to publish the receipes.  

To create the book, Buwei collected over 200 receipes with the assistance of her oldest daughter Rulan Chao, later Professor Rulan Chao Pian, Professor Emerita of East Asian Studies and Music at Harvard.  Her husband helped to write the text for the book.  With his linguist background, his choice of American phrases for the cookbook helped to coin terms still in use today, such as “pot sticker” and “stir fry.”

For more information about the book and its author, please see the recent New York Times article, Chinese Characters  and the 1945 New York Times review of the cookbook.

To view the full presentation, please visit Brown University on YouTube

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