Kitchen Chinese over the long weekend and read it in a day - mostly on my balcony yesterday while I was giving my pasty legs some sun.
It was an easy read with a main character that, in hindsight, I completely identified with because she was so very insecure about herself when it came to her professional life. The romantic ending was a bit of a stretch for me but it was nevertheless good.
I read the interview with the author at the end of the book, and that's when I learned that Ann Mah is the daughter of Adeline Yen Mah, who's autobiography, Falling Leaves, I first read in university. Her story, along with Wild Swans by Jung Chang, which I read for a History class, was what got me hooked into non/fiction about the Chinese experience. On the one hand, I want to learn about my cultural history, but on the other, I really appreciate reading stories about characters that I can relate to and even identify with on a very personal level. A quick check of my bookcase for Falling Leaves reminds me that I lent it out to I don't remember who, who never returned it! Grrr! Same thing happened with Accidental Asian, which I lent to my friend WL, who had it forever, and possibly gave it to SA who was waiting to read it, and that's when I lost track of it. So annoying!
From the back cover:
Isabelle Lee thinks she knows everything about Chinese cuisine. After all, during her Chinese-American childhood, she ate it every day. Isabelle ma speak only "kitchen Chinese" - the familial chatter learned at her mother's knee - but she understands the language of food. Now, in the wake of a career-ending catastrophe, she's ready for a change - so she takes off for Beijing to stay with her older sister, Claire, whom she's never really known, and finds a job writing restaurant reviews for an expat magazine. In the midst of her extreme culture shock, and the more she comes to learn about her sister's own secrets, Isabelle can't help but wonder whether coming to China was a mistake...or an extraordinary chance to find out who she really is.