ALL UNDER HEAVEN by Carolyn Phillips is a massive book – 514 pages! Philips just didn’t pen an incredibly large cookbook, she put together a history lesson on the geography, the culture, and the cooking of China.
All Under Heaven takes a look at the 35 cuisines that make up the Chinese culinary world. The book is broken up into regions – the North & Manchurian Northeast, the Yangtze River & Its Environs, the Coastal Southeast, the Central Highlands, and the Arid Lands. Within each of these chapters, Phillips shares a background on the area, maps, illustrations, and recipes. For the recipe sections, you get appetizers and small plates, soups, entrée, side dishes, starches and street foods, sweets, and beverages for each region.
At the end of the book, Phillips offers the fundamentals to Chinese cooking, basic recipes, techniques and handy advice, a glossary and buying guide, along with a suggestion of menus.
As expected, with most of the ingredients, you’ll need to visit an Asian market to find what you need, thought the supermarket will have many of the ingredients. There is a blurb about each recipe that range from a short paragraph to a whole story. The directions are not complex, but are wordy. This can make a recipe seem daunting with lots of instructions, but they are easy to follow and a great guide. The first thing that I immediately noticed upon flipping through this book, is there are no photographs of the food. The author has filled the book with her illustrations.
That would be my number one complaint about the cookbook – no photos of the food. I like to see the food to know what my meal should turn out looking like – especially when it is food that I am unfamiliar with cooking. My only other complaint, which is nothing really and I only bring this up jokingly, is when I told my son that I’m getting this book so I can cook Chinese food, he was so excited that I could now make his favorite meal: Sweet and Sour Chicken. He was so happy when this book arrived. His eyes lit up at the size of it. This is a huge book, right? We looked and we looked and we looked…. there’s no Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe in this book. He was bummed. There is a sweet and sour fish recipe that I can try to adapt, but…. he’s happy with take-out.
If you love Chinese food and the culture of China, you’ll absolutely love this book. Like I mentioned above, this isn’t just a cookbook, this is a history lesson and a look into the culture of the great people of China. Carolyn Phillips put her heart and soul into this book and it shows. Some may even call this one of the best cookbooks of the year!
I was given a copy of ALL UNDER HEAVEN by Carolyn Phillips in exchange for an honest review.