A-Gong’s Table: Vegan Recipes from a Taiwanese Home

Ten Speed. Apr. 2024. 272p. ISBN 9781984861276. pap. $28. COOKING
Lee, who runs the blog site Chez Jorge and has buzzy accounts on Instagram and TikTok, grew up in a house built by A-Gong, his paternal grandfather, on the outskirts of Taipei. Basing this book on his family history, particularly the 100-day period he spent following Buddhist funeral customs to abstain from meat after the death of A-Gong, Lee offers 90+ vegan recipes. These are enriched with detailed notes and intimate story fragments, as well as photographs by Laurent Hsia, taken as they both traveled across Taiwan. The book is arranged across items from the larder, breakfast, little eats, vegetables, soups, mains, and festivals and includes the Taiwanese and Mandarin Chinese translations of recipe names. It is a book for readers of cookbooks and is deep, reflective, and exhaustive in its goal of sharing a culinary heritage—and a family life. Some of the dishes will take skill and time, such as Five Willow fried fish, but others, including the comforting sweet potato congee, will welcome and sustain first-timers to the recipe.
VERDICT A rich achievement that should be a part of all library collections. It might not be a book everyone cooks from, but it will be one everyone learns from.
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