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The vivid flavours of Sichuan, with Fuchsia Dunlop as our guide

Expert advice on this most intricate of regional Chinese cooking traditionsA Saturday morning and I am roaming the broad aisles of Wing Yip, the thrilling Asian supermarket in Croydon, trying to bring colour to a life of monochrome. Occasionally, I glance from my phone’s screen to the parade of jars, like a lost child looking for a parent in the crowd. There are a few of us like this here today; the baffled, hopeful and pathologically hungry, with ingredient lists for dishes so very far from our comfort zones.Happily, I have a guide. Her name is Fuchsia Dunlop. The image on my phone is a photograph from her book, The Food of Sichuan. It’s a set of Chinese characters for sweet flour sauce, a paste close to, but subtly different from, hoi sin. Unhelpfully, it has a bunch of different names in English. Photographing the Chinese characters is Dunlop’s suggestion and praise be, it works. I quickly find an ingredient for twice-cooked pork, one of my favourite Sichuan dishes.Dunlop’s book is a window through which to glimpse, and occasionally participate in, another kind of life Continue reading…