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on 4 February 2009
I bought this book just to look at the pretty pictures but started cooking a few recipes out of pure curiosity. A lot of them simply don't look like they'll be particularly tasty as they have very simple ingredients (and in some cases, very little meat). How wrong I was. I have randomly cooked about several of her recipes now and they are all delicious. To the reviewer who thinks that they will all taste the same - they certainly don't, even if it looks like they might. I can't wait to keep cooking my way through the book.
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on 4 September 2008
I liked Kylie's previous books but the recipes in this one don't cut it. A lot of the base ingredients (ginger, garlic, sugar, soy, oyster sauce, chinese rice wine, vinegar, peanut oil) seem to be repeated over and over again and whilst I know that Chinese cooking does rely on these, I also know there is more variety to be had.

A lot of the dishes are likely to end up tasting the same, I think. They lack subtlety and fragrance.

Sorry Kylie - I think you can do better.
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on 16 August 2009
This follows on from her TV series with fabulous recipes and endearing stories of her visit to her ancestral homeland.
I loved the TV series from Oz, but I wish she would find a way to stop her specs from keep slipping.
Kylie denotes herself as an ABC, an Australian Born Chinese, and brings a different slant to many Chinese dishes.
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on 8 October 2009
I have made a lot of the recipes from this book over the past few years and every one has been stunning and a major hit with friends. All are easy (and usually quick) to make and most rely on core ingredients; so once you have bought these it will open up the majority of the recipes in the book.

I think people who enjoy proper Chinese food, not the type you get at an English take-away or restaurant, will love this book and find it an invaluable source of information as Kylie gives more than just the recipes. Also, people who have travelled across China will really enjoy the sumptuous photography. This is a highly usable cookbook AND a coffee table book as well; it's a joy just to look through. It made me really want to go back, however making the recipes is the next best thing!
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on 24 August 2008
My China: Stories and Recipes from My Homeland
Curious, no, greedy by the raving reviews and luscious photographs I found elsewhere on the web --my appetite had been woken but I thought I yet needed more research-- I went and bought this book. Somebody even warned in the reviews that it was mainly a travel book; but hey, I love and admire the work of Jeffrey Alford as well. Who doesn't want some travels with the cooking, after all; is there an art more ethnic that has travelled to so many different homes?

Upon receiving it I would not look my disappointment in the eyes; I really did need a new book on chinese cookery, and this was supposed to be it. To be clear: I own the book on Sichuan food, Sichuan Cookery, by Fuchsia Dunlop, which is priceless, a treasure on my shelf, but it stays in Sichuan; I own her Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, The Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, but that stays in Hunan; I own Ken Hom's journey through his homeland, The Taste of China; but where is the book that embraces simple things, street snacks, noodle dishes, from Han mainland, and still manages to enhance my knowledge of the culture from which I'm cooking?!?

This was not going to be that book. It is vast, and the journey Kylie made is impressive. She starts with a visit to the ancestral village, Wong Hai Nang in Guangdong, from which her great grandfather departed in 1875, to seek gold and a better life in Australia. She writes about the food that is made to honour her ancestors and cooks a grand meal for the villagers. I also made this meal; because the food described and photographed begged to be cooked. All the pictures are very much enticing, not only of the food, but also of the landscape, of markets, encounters, a house with a tree in front, great mountains, luscious fields, rice terraces. I cooked from her recipes, and hoped to achieve what the pictures promised, and dreamed of visiting china while preparing the food.

But it wasn't all that good. Do not mistake my experience: I am, no bashfulness, a very good cook. I have a magic touch if you will, but I need much more experience in preparing chinese dishes. I am not Asian of origin, but I am familiar and accustomed to the cuisine of my chinese former grandfather-in-law, I have been to great chinese banquettes on various occasions, and I also have cooked for chinese relatives and have even been praised for my cooking, which humbled me of course very much. I love to cook chinese, I admire the philosophy that is behind chinese food. I am able to cook chinese, but I lack the heritage and background and this makes me a mediocre cook in the chinese cuisine, and I simply need a good book on chinese cookery, to expand my skills and knowledge.

Kwong's food is very, very sweet, and very, very oily. Much too sweet and fatty to equal the healthy chinese food I've come to know and love. It lacks the many vegetables that belong to the chinese staple food, such as the various cabbages. It doesn't even mention a garden vegetable as water spinach, ung choi (morning glory, known as kong xin cai in mandarin, or kankun in southern asian cuisine) or mustard greens as choi sum (cai xin, I believe, in mandarin). The dishes are not simple and harmonious enough to my taste; although I enjoy a very thick taste now and then, this is the food cooked by someone who enjoys mainly and primarily hamburgers and coke it seems, rather then ma po dou fu or jiaozi, but who still has good cooking skills.

To be a good sport I started reading. It still is a very pretty book, filled with travels, even to the Tibetan plateau. Yet the traveling was arbitrary, and so is its account. I have no time to loose on badly written reports. In my daily life as a teacher I read too much mediocre things that are well meant, but still have no literary qualities. Of course I read the reports of my students with attention and patience: they have still to grow, and still to learn, and only a few of them have aspirations to keep on writing after finishing school. But when I get home I have only time and will to open up something worthwhile. I want only to spend money on material that will sharpen my wits and can inform me, or move me with its poetry. This book is the account of a physical journey, where the interesting part, the mental journey, is lacking. It is filled with all the obligatory ingredients of a school trip, without the understanding what writing on a journey means. If it lacks that, it could bring information on the different ethnic chinese groups? Believe me, for anything beyond the great wall, you need Alford's book Beyond the Great Wall. Although the author thinks she undergoes a great experience, it remains with the experience itself; "we went there and there and saw so and so, and boy, this was really profound", but never does she account of her spiritual experiences, of the symbolic journey of the mind, the journey to her ancestral land. Or in other words: she has not enough to interest me. It lacks, I am sorry to say, real quality in every way.
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on 23 August 2008
I've been eyeing up Kylie Kwong's books for a long time. I've always really enjoyed watching her cook on her occasional appearances on UK TV, and appreciated her blend of Chinese and Australian influences. But of course, being Chinese cuisine, there's normally an awful lot of meat involved, not so appealing to a veggie like me! But, as we quickly realise with Kylie's new book, many in China simply can't afford to eat meat regularly, and vegetables and fish are used extensively, cooked simply with lots of flavoursome garlic, chilli and ginger. I adore this book for its recipes, which are highly seductive, and Kylie's anecdotes of her travels, particularly her regaling of the emotional reunion with family members. I also adore the breathtakingly beautiful design, photography and overall production, which make this a must-have lust object of coffee-table proportion. I urge all avid cookbook collectors to add this lovely book to their bulging bookshelves, you won't regret it.
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