Posted 25 October 2011 - 07:32 PM
For those who've never heard of her, it might seem strange that we're talking about a Jewish woman with regards to Chinese cooking. But, oftentimes, it takes an outsider to break the surly bonds of complacity and conventional thinking.
Albert Einstein, Sigmeund Freud, Betty Friedan, Ralph Lauren were all outsiders who ended up gaining a deeper understanding because of their outsiderness and thus revolutionizing their respective fields. (Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Lifshitz to lower middle-class Jewish imigrants but ended up revolutinizing WASP clothing.)
For those who've never heard of her, if you love Julia Child, then you will love Barbara Tropp who wrote the best, most authorative book on Chinese cooking, be it in Chinese or English. Because Tropp was an outsider, she studied it more thoroughly and more deeply than
those who grew up with Chinese cooking but never questioned why they cooked it that way. Instead of just cooking Chinese food because that's how your parents cooked it, Tropp wanted to understand why we cooked Chinese food like that and then taught us why and how in her masterpiece cookbook.
For those who've never heard of her, if you love Alice Waters, then you'll love Tropp because Tropp did to Chinese cooking what Alice Waters did to American cooking- she brought local and seasonal ingredients into the Chinese kitchen.
For those who've never heard of her, if you love Mission Chinese food, then you would have loved Tropp's restaurant, China Moon. When she didn't find any great Chinese food in SF, she founded China Moon to fill that void.
Posted 25 October 2011 - 10:38 PM
There are many critics of the China Moon book but I remain a fan. She got me to pickle my own ginger, make some flavored oils, attempt those sesame topped buns, pickle spicy carrots, and really just play with my California bounty within a Chinese frame of mind. My book is in storage so this is all from memory. The very first ice cream I made with a super cheap ice cream maker was her lemon one - it set the bar for our friends for the last 20+ years!
I was in San Francisco when the restaurant was still going and was only able to walk past and gaze in as I was baby sitting very young kids. Kicking myself in the butt still for not giving it a shot.
She has a passage in the book where Jacques Pepin is in the kitchen and they are making stock and drinking champagne - priceless
Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:16 AM
Posted 26 October 2011 - 07:11 AM
Posted 26 October 2011 - 07:24 AM
My blog: Fun Playing With Food
Posted 26 October 2011 - 09:18 AM
Katie - I probably ate there around the same time frame and have a similar memory. I don't even remember the noodle pillow, but I do remember how clean and bold her flavors were. It also made me realize how good Chinese food could be in a restaurant that used fine ingredients and cooked with precision.
And I did go to her restaurant once, probably shortly after it opened. I had eaten plenty of Chinese food in SF, having lived on the North Beach Chinatown border during the seventies, but I remember how new and different her food was. Looking back (approx 25 yrs ago!) I admit most of the meal is blurry. We sat at the counter. One dish is very sharp in my mind: a noodle pillow; big and crunchy and unique.
My first edition China Moon Cookbook still brings me pleasure to read and maintains its prominent position on my bookshelf.
Posted 06 July 2012 - 10:27 PM
that said, some of her recipes were daunting and complicated, for me anyway
but her szechuan chili peanut sauce is amazing
Edited by bloosquirrel, 06 July 2012 - 10:29 PM.
Posted 11 November 2012 - 04:09 AM