For Teflon Taste Buds
Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, by Fuchsia Dunlop, hardcover, 256 pages, list price: $29.95
Of the eight great cuisines of China, that of Hunan is the hottest of all — ablaze with hot red chilies and vibrant salty, sour, bitter tastes. Thanks to Fuchsia Dunlop (her previous cookbook was the Sichuan-focused Land of Plenty), authentic regional Chinese cooking is at last having its day, the way regional Italian cooking did 10 years ago. Peng's Home-Style Bean Curd gets a pungent kick from fermented black beans and chilies; Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs, with their last-minute dose of black vinegar, are guaranteed to leave the most dignified of your guests loudly sucking the gristle. These are intense, addictive recipes for the committed chili-head — and I dare say every one of them can cure a hangover in 20 minutes flat, as long as you don't faint from the heat. Just don't try to eat the chilies whole (ask me how I know). (Listen to an interview with Fuchsia Dunlop.)
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