on 10 January 2006
Now, I haven't seen the TV series which this book is supposed to accompany, so I cannot make a comparison that way. However, I do know (and love) my Chinese cooking, having eaten the real stuff all my life, so I can compare my decades of experience with Floyd's professional culinary finesse.
I would have to say that Floyd has definitely managed to capture a good number of the signature dishes which many Westerners do not know about. Simply, because people outside of China, think Chinese people eat takeaway food all the time. This is disturbingly incorrect, and now I'm glad that a well-known chef has finally shown what is really eaten.
In typical Keith Floyd style, he maintains that almost all recipes should have some form of alcohol in it. This playfully suggests that he might have a problem, but being a chef, I guess he's allowed to indulge! However, he does keep to what is the traditional Chinese cooking recipe of using a variety of ingredients, all easily obtained, and cooked with the fewest of instructions. The only difficult part in any of his recipes is the waiting for the overnight marinading, when all readers will be thinking "I'm hungry NOW"!
On the other hand, it wouldn't be a Keith Floyd book if he didn't come up with his own recipes, otherwise, it would be called "China stolen by Keith Floyd". So the traditionalist in me was rather annoyed with his own unique version of some dishes.
Apart from that, my only other bugbear is that there are so few recipes considering it is supposed to be a recipe book that covers the most populace country in the world. The 160 pages of food (the other 30 pages is just introduction) only supplies the merest hint as to what one can find in China. But then, I've never been able to find one Chinese cookery book that could satisfy me!
A decent book which does showcase some wonderful creations which can be easily prepared by novice and expert alike.