Review: The Good Food of Szechuan
by Robert A. Delfs
1974 Kodansha International Ltd. ISBN-13: 978-0870112317
This book is almost four decades old now but I only recently came across it Amazon where used copies were being sold quite reasonably by third party dealers. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much from it as many books on Sichuan cuisine that are older than ten or fifteen years are not generally that good. This one, though, is really quite decent given its age. It is not very long, and the dishes are mostly limited to classics, but the recipes that are provided are very representative of proper Sichuan cuisine and not just the usual sort of poor western interpretations one would typically get in many contemporary publications…
Content and Organization
There are only 124 pages in this book but they include 80 recipes organized, as you can see, into fairly standard categories based on the main ingredient of each dish.
The glossary of ingredients and utensils are both very brief and don’t include much you won’t find elsewhere but the section on methods is fairly helpful and has some useful line drawings illustrating a few techniques such as jointing a chicken.
The recipes are not individually illustrated but there is a section of color photographs in the middle of the book showing a few of them.
The lack of photographs for each recipe is a bit of a negative but the range of recipes is quite extensive so as to not only cover the main classics of Sichuan cookery but also provide a good general overview of the cuisine. They are also fairly well written and easy to follow.
I don’t browse through the book that often but I do occasionally use it as a supplementary reference for comparing recipes with those from other sources. Despite the age of the book, I would recommend it to others for this same purpose.