The Seventh Daughter - Cecilia Chiang
To be honest, I had never heard of Cecilia Chiang until my friend, the food-writer Amanda Berne, whom I first met three years ago when she interviewed me for an article about food bloggers in the San Francisco Chronicle, left the paper to work for Ten Speed press and edit Chiang's book, The Seventh Daughter. [Yes, before you rib me for it, that is the longest sentence I have ever written on this blog.]
Had Amanda stayed on in California to finish her task instead of moving to New York City, which is what happened instead, no doubt would she have forced a copy of this book upon me, insisting it was a present from a friend, not a press copy (which she knew would have gone against my carefully guarded blogging policies). Amanda had also promised me that if she was allowed a guest, I would be the one who would accompany her to a launch party for the book. Amanda clearly enjoyed working with Chiang and was certain I, too, would delight in meeting such a spirited octogenarian. I was looking forward to it. Until Amanda blew me off and moved to the opposite coast.
Fast forward several months and I read somewhere that The Seventh Daughter had finally been published. Despite having little connection with Chinese food, and not immediately understanding the influence Chiang had on the restaurant industry, particularly in California, I decided to go ahead and buy myself a copy. The purchase was mainly out of solidarity to the dear friend I miss. I hoped that reading a book she edited would allow me to enjoy a little piece of the Amanda I don't get to see so often these days.
Despite being a insatiable bookworm in my youth, these days I procrastinate too much to read. I tire easily. I often start a book I never finish or otherwise torture myself by eking out a heavy tome at a rate of one page a day until I realise it will take me a good part of a decade before I can move on to a new read.
Not so with The Seventh Daughter. This book, despite flitting back and forth between past and present, drew me in immediately. Cecilia Chiang's life is so irresistibly fascinating and so far removed from anything within the bounds of my own experiences, I could not fail to be charmed and intrigued by it.
I don't want to give away Chiang's startling story, I just need to let you know it is out there, begging to be read. And as if the story of her life's journey wasn't enough, the book is peppered with the recipes that mark her life. I thought Chinese cooking wasn't really my thing but maybe all I needed was a little inspiration...
2007 | One of the most important posts I wrote last year
2006 | Ms Glaze's Pommes d'Amour
2004 | Nettle Fettucini
© 2008 Sam Breach The Seventh Daughter - Cecilia Chiang