the appetizer:

Discover traditional Chinese food in Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, with recipes like Hani Soy Sprout Salad; Dai Flavored Oil; Dai Chile-Fish Soup with Flavored Oil; and Lisu Spice-Rubbed Roast Pork.

Cookbook Profile

Beyond the Great Wall:
Recipes and Travels in the Other China

by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China
Click to buy Beyond the Great Wall


In this Olympic year, the world is watching China, perhaps more closely now than when it first opened its borders in the early 1980s.

And in the West, when we think about China, what usually comes to mind are the people, culture, architecture and food of Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. But beyond these urbanized eastern areas lies the other China: the high open spaces and sacred places of Tibet, the Silk Road oases of Xinjiang and Qinghai, the steppelands of Inner Mongolia, and the steeply terraced hills of Yunnan and Guizhou. The people who live in these regions—Tibetans, Mongols, Uighurs, Hui, Dong, and others—are culturally distinct, with their own history and culinary traditions.

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid have been traveling in China for more than 25 years. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, they have witnessed the most dramatic social and economic change in the shortest amount of time. In Beyond the Great Wall the authors present the history behind China's culinary traditions; the connections among food, culture, and region; the changing relationship between its majority (Han Chinese) and minority peoples; and much more.

In Beyond the Great Wall, culinary anthropologists Alford and Duguid draw a new map of China, a food map that focuses on the outlying regions of present-day China and on the peoples who live there. They have traveled and eaten and photographed in mountain villages and border towns, in nomad yurts, and local markets.

When it comes to food and cooking, China is a very remarkable place. From the well-watered semitropical hills and valleys of Yunnan and Guizhou to the rugged mountains in Xinjiang and Tibet, the traditional culinary cultures of the regions beyond the Great Wall reflect local climate and terrain. A sampling of regions and recipes includes:

Condiments and SeasoningsDai Tart Green Salsa from southern Yunnan; Tenzin's Quick Pickled Radish Threads from Tibet; and Tribal Pepper-Salt from the hills and valleys of southern Guizhou Province

Mostly VegetablesEasy Lhasa Fried Potato Slices from the streets of Tibet; Hui Vegetable Hot Pot and Silk Road Chickpea-Carrot Fritters from Xinjiang

Noodles and DumplingsAmdo Noodle Squares from Gansu and Qinghai; Hand-Rolled Rice Noodles from Guizhou; and Savory Boiled Dumplings from southern Yunnan

Chicken and EggsOasis Chicken Kebabs from Xinjiang; Market-Day Omelet and Dong Chicken Hot Pot from Guizhou

Drinks and Sweet Treats—Chinese classic Sesame Balls with Sweet Bean Paste; Eight-Flavor Tea from Xinging; and Tibetan Rice Pudding

Like the traditional regional cooking of rural France and Italy, this is comfort food, with direct flavors that speak to the heart and simple ingredients. Of all of Alford and Duguid's books, this is perhaps the easiest one for cooks from North America to embark on using the equipment they already have and shopping at their usual grocery stores. Ingredients and tools that may be unfamiliar are described in the book's Glossary.

Accompanied by more than 300 stunning, full-color photographs by Alford, Duguid and Richard Jung, Beyond the Great Wall is much more than a cookbook. It also includes detailed maps illustrating where thirteen of China's non-Han peoples live, a short guide to pronunciation and placenames and a chart depicting the evolution of China's language families. Chapters are arranged according to dishes and each includes a personal essay from Alford and Duguid's travels from 1980 up to the present day and concludes with a profile of a particular minority people.

Beyond the Great Wall is a rich mosaic of recipes reflecting not only layers of flavor, but also layers of history. The diversity, the ingenuity, the resourcefulness, the incredible depth of tradition and culture—all of these things make food in China, and eating in China, one of life's greatest pleasures. This book is not only about the food of the people living in the regions beyond the Great Wall, but their traditions and cultural survival at a time when these are threatened by the fast pace of change in modern China.

About the Author

Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid are cooks, writers, photographers, and great travelers, and are among the handful of people who pioneered the stuffy of food in its cultural context. They have helped broaden our collective palate, inviting us to engage with culinary traditions not our own and enriching our notions of where good food comes from. Each of their previous five cookbooks has won one or more awards; their most recent book Mangoes & Curry Leaves, was selected best international cookbook by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Home base for the authors is downtown Toronto, where they live with their two sons.


Buy Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China


Beyond the Great Wall:
Recipes and Travels in the Other China


This page created June 2008