Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pg. 99: Helen Tse's "Sweet Mandarin"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Helen Tse's Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West.

About the book, from the publisher:
Spanning almost a hundred years, this rich and evocative memoir recounts the lives of three generations of remarkable Chinese women.

Their extraordinary journey takes us from the brutal poverty of village life in mainland China, to newly prosperous 1930s Hong Kong and finally to the UK. Their lives were as dramatic as the times they lived through.

A love of food and a talent for cooking pulled each generation through the most devastating of upheavals. Helen Tse's grandmother, Lily Kwok, was forced to work as an amah after the violent murder of her father. Crossing the ocean from Hong Kong in the 1950s, Lily honed her famous chicken curry recipe. Eventually she opened one of Manchester's earliest Chinese restaurants where her daughter, Mabel, worked from the tender age of nine. But gambling and the Triads were pervasive in the Chinese immigrant community, and tragically they lost the restaurant. It was up to author Helen and her sisters, the third generation of these exceptional women, to re-establish their grandmother's dream. The legacy lived on when the sisters opened their award-winning restaurant Sweet Mandarin in 2004.

Sweet Mandarin shows how the most important inheritance is wisdom, and how recipes--passed down the female line--can be the most valuable heirloom.
Among the praise for the book:
"A delightful, well-written and at times painful memoir."
--Publishers Weekly

"An easy-flowing tale that subsumes historical changes in personal histories, especially the plight of the author's grandmother."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Sweet Mandarin is a banquet of family stories that take us from a small Chinese village to cosmopolitan Hong Kong and urban Manchester. Along the way, the ingredients of special dishes and a rich life are added: a homemade stock of hard life, a pound of tragedy, a spoonful of daring, a dash of curses, and dollop after dollop of sheer will. This is a family memoir of survival and victories, luck and determination, and perpetual mounds of dirty dishes waiting to be washed."
--Amy Tan, bestselling author

"In our world of many cultures we seem to focus on those things that separate us. The two very important things that connect us worldwide are family and food. Wherever we go we all wish to be family, and food is the common thread that connects us all. The Tse Family and their beautifully written book, Sweet Mandarin, clearly demonstrates we are all family; and that simply, home-cooked food is the best way to show your love to your family of relatives and friends. In good times and sad times food connects us all."
--Art Smith, Oprah's chef and bestselling author
Learn more about the book and author at the Sweet Mandarin website.

The Page 99 Test: Sweet Mandarin.

--Marshal Zeringue