Her name may belie the fact that she grew up with family dinners prepared by her Taiwanese mother and uncle, but Cathy Erway, author of The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove and the blog Not Eating Out In New York (both essential DIY readings for NYC-dwellers), wants to spread the gospel of Taiwanese food. Using her knack for sharing personal discovery and appreciation for food from farm to table, her forthcoming cookbook, The Food of Taiwan, introduces the cuisine and culture that is much loved in Asia as a unique jewel but has only recently gained recognition in the United States thanks to an increasing number of Taiwanese restaurants and social media-friendly articles like CNN’s “45 Taiwanese Foods We Can’t Live Without”.
To master Taiwanese cooking, Cathy spent time in Taiwan visiting restaurants and night markets and researching recipes and techniques. However, much of what makes Taiwanese food so interesting is found outside of the kitchen. She also explored the sub-tropical island’s local ingredients — vegetables, herbs, spices, and bountiful catch from the sea — as well as the complex historical, social, and ethnic influences and confluences that led to the remarkable diversity of Taiwan’s food. The joys of sharing the kitchen and table were an important part of her culinary experiences in Taipei. Cathy got in with the locals and found herself helping with the preparation a banquet for three generations of a family and another for a group of old friends that often gathered at a shop turned teahouse.
Back in New York, her recipes were perfected at six “Taiwanese Test Kitchen Dinners” at her apartment in Brooklyn. At each dinner, ten dishes were prepared for and served to ten guests, allowing Cathy to test her recipes and receive feedback, some of which led to realization that people here might not be ready for bitter melon.
As one of the few English-language cookbooks dedicated to this cuisine, The Food of Taiwan is poised to get a new audience salivating over the food from the island of 23 million and shows another facet of the unending diversity of the Chinese-speaking world.The Food of Taiwan presents traditional recipes, like this recipe for Dried Radish Omelet (菜脯蛋), (a salty-sweet omelet with a crunch that is often eaten with congee, but is great on its own), as well as Cathy’s own creations that incorporates Taiwanese cooking techniques and flavor combinations, like cilantro and peanuts.
The Food of Taiwan is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and will be released on March 24, 2015. Pick up your copy online at Amazon. For updates on the book and events, follow the book’s Facebook page.
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