Editor's note: London-based cook, food writer and consultant Fuchsia Dunlop sits down with CNN to discuss her love affair with Sichuanese cuisine. Her responses have been edited for concision and flow.
CNN: What sparked your interest in Sichuanese cuisine?
I got very interested in China through a job subediting news reports about the east Asian region, particularly China. So I started Mandarin evening classes and went on holiday to China and was fascinated.
I'd been in Sichuan in 1993 when coming back from a holiday to Tibet and had an amazing lunch with some dishes I never forgot. I had looked up a Sichuanese musician whom I'd met in my hometown of Oxford, and he and his wife took me out. It was at a very modest little restaurant, but we had a delicious meal and ended up on the riverbank drinking jasmine tea at a teahouse. At that moment, I thought, I want to come back and live here.
Hieu Huynh is a writer producer at CNN On-Air Promotions. She is based in Atlanta, Georgia.
As the steam carts roll by, I caution my dining companions, "Never pick from the first one that comes along."
Eating dim sum is like a game of strategy and patience. The goal is to fill up on the good stuff, which usually means waiting as the cold and lifeless items pass by.
"Never pick the first?" my best friend asks. "Isn’t that almost like dating? If you're too quick, and just pick the first thing you see, you might miss out on something even better."
Gung hay fat choy! In case you're looking for last minute advice on how to welcome the Year of the Dragon, we've rounded up our Chinese New Year-related coverage for all your celebrating needs.
But first, a quick explainer from Chef Chris Yeo on the ancient food traditions associated with the Lunar New Year.
"Chinese New Year is a special time of year for many. 'Chi fan le mei you?' or 'Have you eaten yet?' is the most common greeting heard during the celebration of the Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year throughout the West. Many of the traditions of Chinese New Year center around food either being cooked or eaten. To people who trace their roots back to China, the most important date in the lunar calendar is Chinese New Year – it’s a traditional time for feasting with family and friends that dates back thousands of years.
Although it's the people from Guangdong province who have the reputation for eating just about anything, Shanghai foodies are no slouches.
You can find plenty of weird eats around the city that you might actually enjoy if you know where to look.
For this list we stayed away from the shock value - no sheep penis here - and sought out what locals are actually eating.
5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
Instead of your typical weekend plate of scrambled eggs, head out for some dim sum - a Cantonese tradition of communal small plates.
Feeling hesitant? Chinese culinary authority Ed Schoenfeld from the newly opened dim sum-inspired restaurant, Red Farm, is here to cart you toward success.
Five Ways to Up Your Dim Sum IQ: Ed Schoenfeld
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