“Swallowing Clouds,” by A. Zee

A playful journey through Chinese culture, language, and cuisine … In “Swallowing Clouds”, A. Zee

invites us to a veritable Chinese banquet full of charming explorations of food, language, and culture. Beginning with simple dishes from a typical restaurant menu, Zee launches into an engrossing voyage of discoveries about Chinese language and cuisine. With folklore and anecdotes, he uncovers the roots of Chinese characters in ancient pictographs, giving an absorbing and effortless introduction to written Chinese.

… why eating “won-tons” is like swallowing clouds … he traces the origin and legend of the dish “Ma Po To Fu” pages 174-179 … you will be able to recognize the Chinese characters on menus … did you know that red hot peppers were imported by the Portuguese from Central America to Sichuan, China! Ay caramba …

Also see “eating in chinese” for a good overview of Chinese characters on menus and restaurants