Secret of the Red Lantern - Pauline Nguyen

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Condition: Murdoch Books 2007 edition. Near mint hardback. Satin-covered boards with a small stain on spine.

"Most recipe books promise (as a matter of course) sumptuous recipes, but Secrets of the Red Lantern (subtitled Stories and Vietnamese Recipes from the Heart) really does deliver that, and a lot more besides. Pauline Nguyen's parents presented these recipes night after night at the highly successful Vietnamese restaurant The Red Lantern, and these were recipes which had been perfected and passed down over many years. The great majority of these recipes are easily achievable, utilising a relatively small range of ingredients; they include such delights as Pho Bo Tai Nam, a beef soup with sawtooth coriander and Vietnamese basil, or pork belly (Thit Ba Roi). All are presented here in a concise and accessible fashion.

But recipes are not all that Secrets of the Red Lantern has to offer. This is more than a cookbook: it is a candid and often moving story of Pauline Nguyen's family, beginning with their dangerous escape from Vietnam during the war and their ultimate settling down in Australia. The love of food is something more than a professional necessity for this family: it helped to assuage their home sickness, and even reconciled differences within the family (these personal passages are quite as beguiling as the more practical cookery aspects of the book). Most of all, though, this is a feast of the most tantalising of foreign recipes, burnished with food and personal photography -- and it is the latter which conveys the very individual nature of the food so resplendently on offer here." ~ Barry Forshaw


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