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Why ordering a Chinese meal is ‘like a symphony’ for author Fuchsia Dunlop

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Fuchsia Dunlop on giving Chinese food its due as ‘a very sophisticated cuisine’ in her latest book, Invitation to a Banquet

Chinese food is ‘not really acknowledged as a very sophisticated cuisine by most people’, food writer Fuchsia Dunlop says, and she wants to change thatThe award-winning author and cookbook creator’s book Invitation to a Banquet is a personal account of her journey into the expansive realm of Chinese cuisineFood and DrinksAngela HuiPublished: 4:15pm, 1 Oct, 2023Why you can trust SCMP

“Ma’am, this is the wrong Royal China,” the waiter says and points to the left. “You want the Royal China Club that’s next door.”

When award-winning writer and cookbook author Fuchsia Dunlop invites you to a 15-course dinner to celebrate her new book, Invitation to a Banquet, you better make sure you are at the right restaurant. (To much confusion, there are two Royal China restaurants on the same street in central London.)

Despite my mix-up, I cannot help but draw a comparison with how easily Chinese food can be misconstrued in the West – Not in a geographical sense, but how it is often misunderstood and undervalued.

“There’s a strange disconnect between the enormous popularity of Chinese food all over the world [and how it is perceived],” Dunlop says in her speech over dinner.

“Generally, in the West, people are prepared to pay loads of money for Japanese sushi or a Nordic tasting menu, but when it comes to Chinese food, it’s stuck in this lowbrow to middle bracket.

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