Here is the link to video, podcast, and transcript. The Q&A segment was led by guests Ezra Klein, Megan McArdle, Mark Miller (Coyote Cafe), and Eva Summer. Fuchsia speaks in perfect British sentences and she always had an answer ready, with charm and extreme intelligence. Here is one excerpt:
COWEN: Three dishes one absolutely has to try are what?
DUNLOP: In Shanghai?
COWEN: In Shanghai. The city, not the region.
DUNLOP: I think you should have hong shao rou, red braised pork. Real home cooking. Delicious combination of soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar, and one of the favorite dishes.
I would recommend some Shanghainese wontons in soup stuffed with shepherd’s purse, which is a wild variety of the brassicas, and pork, just to show you the lighter, gentler side of Shanghainese cooking.
Then, perhaps, if we’re talking Shanghai, you might one to have one of these dishes that says something about Shanghai as being a mixing pot of different cultures.
There’s a very nice crab meat and potato and tomato soup served in some of my favorite Shanghainese restaurants. Which seems a little bit of a fusion with some European influences, the way they use potato and tomato in that soup with local seafood.
COWEN: As you know, the Michelin Guide recently has covered Shanghai, given some restaurants three, two, one star. There’s cheap places you can go. Conceptually, do they understand the food of Shanghai? To the extent they don’t, what are they missing?
DUNLOP: If you look at the restaurants they’ve selected, there’s a bit of a Cantonese bias. They do have some Shanghainese restaurants, but one thing that’s very conspicuous, there are some notable, some of the best Shanghainese local restaurants, which are missing from that list, in my opinion.
The reason is, I think, the methodology of Western food inspectors, which is they tend to go as individuals or small groups. Of course in many Chinese restaurants where you eat family style, to make the most of the restaurant, you have to eat as we’re doing now with a large group and a table full of dishes.
We cover much more, including her favorite parts of China, whether offal is an inferior good, whether one can acquire a taste for sea cucumber, what she thinks of Leonard Cohen, Dream of the Red Chamber, how newbies should approach Chinese food, what top Sichuan chefs thought of their trip to French Laundry, whether milk is overrated, whether Americans have done anything worthwhile with Chinese food, and her favorite Chinese movie.
Here is a short video excerpt from the Sichuan peppercorn tasting segment, namely what makes the very best peppercorns so good compared to the lesser peppercorns.
Here you can order Fuchsia’s new and excellent book The Land of Fish and Rice.