The Art of Chinese Cooking, 1956: Woking the Wok

Here’s a picture of my new favorite cookbook: The Art of Chinese Cooking. It didn’t sell recently, and boy, am I happy about that!

1956 Artful Chinese Cooking

1956 Artful Chinese Cooking

Yesterday, I scooped it out of the failed-to-sell pile and hurried it over to a place of honor on my kitchen counter. Because, I believe,without doubt, it will turn me into a more accomplished cook, as fast as you can say: “Better that a Man should wait for his meal, than the meal should wait for the Man.” (ancient Chinese proverb, according to the book).

The Sisters Signed their book

The Sisters Signed their book

Thus far, after many, many years (but who’s counting?), my culinary efforts currently consist of killer meat loaf, killer tuna noodle casserole, killer potato salad, and if I am very motivated, killer Quiche. But when I discovered this charming cookbook,I realized it was time to move on to something more exotic and challenging (at least, in terms of cooking): Vintage Chinese Food!

Who better to teach me Old-School Chinese Cooking than The Benedictine Sisters of Peking, who not only wrote this 94-page, spiral-bound book in 1956, but signed it, also (see the Title Page).

According to the blurb on the back, “These two delightful and courageous American women (Nuns) came to Japan from a war-ravaged China with little else than their skill in Chinese cooking. To earn their living, they started to teach, and, as their celestial cuisine won (so much) fame in Tokyo, they could not keep up with the demand….” This cook book, the blurb continues, contains their Secrets and their Tricks of the Trade. “Use them – and good eating.” I ask you – isn’t there something so motivating about Chinese cooking secrets divulged by the Benedictine Sisters of Peking?

The Secret of poorly-cooked Rice

The Secret of poorly cooked Rice

So there it is – in a chestnut shell! I am about to embark on DIY cooking. Tonight I start my culinary journey by creating Chicken with Eggplant, or, Chi Ch’ieh Tze , as it is also known.

Once again, I am so very glad a vintage Chinese book collector or cookbook collector did not recognize the potential and promise of this charmingly illustrated little cookbook. Because soon, very soon, I hope, with the encouragement of the Sisters, I will get the Rice right.

Some of the Vintage Cooking Art

Some of the Vintage Cooking Art

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