Ceceliachiang`s "Seventh daughter" and Tsai Chien-hsing`s “OfGuest and Host"
Inher book, Cecelia gives tales of how she grew up in China and leftafter communist government in 1949. She also accounts how she visitedher sister in San Francisco where she met two friends from Tokyo andgot into restaurant business. She was later left to run therestaurant after her two friends left the venture. At the time, thecity had little exposure to Chinese cuisine, although it was offeredin Americanized version as a Cantonese Cuisine. Intrigued by U.Sversion of Chinese foods and her rich culinary past, she embarked onestablishing authentic Chinese foods restaurant. On her initial startup, she did not know what to offer as Northern Chinese dishes, andtherefore, began with 200 Chinese dishes on the menu avoiding theAmericanized Chinese cuisine elements.
Afterfew start up hitches the culinary venture picked up having moreMandarin clients as well as the Americans. The book is full ofauthentic Chinese food recipes, memories and cultural stories. She iscredited for introducing authentic Chinese Mandarin Cuisine in SanFrancisco and the United States in general. Native white Americansstill enjoy the ‘beggar’s chicken’ dish today. In the book, shepresents heartfelt and rich stories about her life and interest inmeal preparation. The book has many recipes of Mandarin preparationslike Beggar’s chicken, pot stickers and spicy eggplant. Inaddition, the book illustrates Mandarin recipes offered in BeverlyHills Mandarin Restaurant as well as other recipes from her familybackground. In particular, she reminisces about her best dish of redcooked pork when she was young in Beijing.
Ceciliasuccess in San Francisco Mandarin venture and in particular herefforts to introduce of authentic Chinese cuisine in an oriented foodsociety was no mean feat indeed the recipes indicates her secret ofturmoil and sacrifices through the spoils of war and her strong soulwhich destined her for great things. The memoirs ‘Culinary journey’and ‘the seventh daughter’ nourishes and feeds the soul with hervivid description of sumptuous recipes and gives one insightsabout the life of a determined lady. This devotion is despicable inher description of how she arrived in San Francisco penniless butwith rich tradition and courage established an elegant foodrestaurant rich in Chinese dishes. Indeed the book ‘the seventhdaughter’ symbolizes a delicious feast meant for savoring.
Ideally,most restaurants in America especially in the San Francisco area didnot offer authentic Chinese food. This presented Cecilia with anopportunity to provide traditional rich Chinese cuisines in the mostdelicious way. By daring to open this restaurant at San Francisco,Cecilia exhibits a voracious determination of altering the Americanattitude towards Chinese food. The diverse and spicy foods offeredat San Francisco restaurant were a stark contrast to the Cantonesebased Americanized dishes offered in other restaurants.
Inaddition, to introducing Mandarin cuisines in America, Cecilia wasinstrumental in elevating culinary standards of Chinese dining inAmerica. She created restaurants that matched her ambitions of AsianAmerican entrepreneur and also exhibited the beauty and elegance ofChinese culture among the western audience. Chiang took advantage ofChinese Chefs immigrants and their love for native dishes to makemany recipes foods in her San Francisco restaurant. In this way sheattracted many Chinese American natives with food improvisations likechop suey and egg foo young.
Onenotable aspect of her success in revolutionizing Chinese food inAmerica, was sticking to professional preparation of authenticChinese cuisines learned from child hood experience. In her SanFrancisco restaurant, she served great Chinese cuisines liketea-smoked duck, Peking duck, beggars chicken, Sichuan spicy eggplantand pan-fried dumplings, all which were her favorite dishes. Anotheraspect of this successful cook and entrepreneur that distinguishedher restaurant from the rest was that, she maintained high foodquality and assisted guests in navigating the exotic menu. Owing toher distinguished authentic Mandarin cookies, great names dined inher restaurant notably Jack Kennedy, Henry Kissinger and Mick Jaggeramong others. Unlike other restaurants, Chiang gave recipe lessons toher clients and guests in general the likes of James Beard, Alicewaters and Chuck Williams among others.
TheSan Francisco venture was her favorite place of entertaining guestsespecially those from rural areas. She elegantly volunteered toentertain her guests by dressing in fine jewelry and qipaowhile still keeping eye on guest menu details. This was a greatcutting edge in making her restaurant conspicuous within SanFrancisco city it is recorded that, the Mandarin was unquestionablythe most glamorous and elegant Chinese restaurant in San Franciscoand in the larger American nation.
Oneof her major attributes in this venture was her charm in givingculinary advices to all. In the Soul of Banquet, she observed that,clean and precise chopping was a critical part in the preparation ofChinese dishes. She advocated for simple and tasty home cookingrecipes rather than fancy recipes as a way of cooking authenticfoods. Notably, she encouraged ‘culture of the table’ in whichgood hospitality and food preparation were pillars of culinarydiscipline. In most of her restaurant ventures, she played a greatrole as a charming and vibrant hostess a feat that could beattributed to her success in running Mandarin restaurants in theAmerican society. She won the James Beard Award for her elegancy inthe food world.