Posted on

Behind the scenes at Encyclopedia of China headquarters

Editorial assistant Bill Siever, who has been known to get to work at 5am (maybe even earlier–how would I know?) sent an email yesterday alluding to The Shining and I had to get him to explain it. Apparently the crazed central character starts typing, over and over again, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Bill typed the word HOWEVER many times because it is a favorite of our wonderful editor Mary Bagg. Well, it has been a lot of work and little play as we finish the massive Encyclopedia of China. But there was some fun this afternoon, and the promise of good food, too. Here’s an exchange between Martin Lubin, one of our designers, Tom Christensen, and me.
Hey, Karen!

I’ve cooked a number of things from the book [The Art of Chinese Cuisine by Hsiang Ju Lin and Tsuifeng Lin, a 1969 book reprinted by Tuttle in 1996]–Velvet Chicken, Duck Soup (but I made the Beijing Duck from a different book; see below), Diced chicken in Sauce, Hot, Red-Pepper Chicken, Duck Steamed in Wine, etc. All good & interesting, but I use it more for theory than for cooking.

The cookbook I rely most on, My Chinese equivalent of Julia Child & Marcella Hazan, is Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee’s The Chinese Cookbook, Lippincott, 1974. Out of print now, I think, but available used from Amazon. Broad in scope and very reliable. The Beijing Duck is superb & easier than you might think, though it requires day-before prep.

How do you say “Bon Appétit” in Mandarin?

Dear Marty,

This is such a help! I’m ccing Tom, is a fine cook, and I am now sure we will have to arrange a celebratory cooking/eating party before long. Bill was just talking about champagne, in fact.

Just went downstairs to check and indeed I have The Chinese Cookbook! Haven’t really looked at it – I’m always picking up secondhand cookbooks and there are, well, who knows how many. But that sounded familiar. So, we’ll give it a shot.

Bill says that a party is definitely going to be in order. I was hunting around for some office supplies, and because we’re now in my house I was looking in a cupboard near Bill’s desk that also, to his surprise, holds miscellaneous bottles of liquor. “If only I’d known,” he said.

Tom, how about the Chinese?

Thanks, and we’ll report! Karen.
[Tom writes:]

I’m not quite sure why you keep insisting I speak Chinese. 😉

At all the Chinese meals I’ve been to there’s isn’t any kind of benediction, in the style of bon appétit, usually everyone just moves into eating mode, while loudly talking. Also, as everyone isn’t served plates of food simultaneously, the image of a party being served entrées, everyone looking rapturously down, the host saying the words, and the 1-2 minutes of pure gastronomy, doesn’t seem to work. Everyone sits, the host orders for the table, and then little plates of noodles and sliced meats and peanuts start flowing onto the lazy susan, and it’s off to the races. I suppose a toast with drinks would be the closest equivalent.

One thought on “Behind the scenes at Encyclopedia of China headquarters

  1. I’m just wild about Chinese food. For me it is very tasty and I think its quite useful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *