Swallowing Clouds : A Playful Journey Through Chinese Culture, Language and Cuisine

clouds Physics professor Zee writes about how to understand the menus in Chinese restaurants, explaining the characters, what they mean, and the colorful stories behind the names of various dishes. Anne Tyler (in the Washington Post) called Swallowing Clouds “a study of the very nature of Chinese culture. Zee has a quirky, personal style that draws the reader in.”

A. Zee is professor of theoretical physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the author of Fearful Symmetry: The Search for Beauty in Modern Physics and An Old Man’s Toy: Gravity at Work and Play in Einstein’s Universe.

Contents :

Preface
Time Line
A Word about Pronunciation
Introduction

Beijing Men Built a Fire
Slicing through Water

Interlude 1: Phonetics, or Why Some Characters Look Horribly Complicated

Sleep of the Truly Inebriated
Swallowing Clouds
Chinese Pigs Stand

Interlude 2: The Appalling Ignorance of Some Scribes

A Delicacy for Aging Men
No Contest between Fish and a Bear with Eight Legs
Courtesans Do Not Eat Crabs

Interlude 3: To All You Carnivores

The Sweet Fragrance of Crops Ripening
How to Avoid Being Vulgar
The Pockmarked Woman and the Pearly Empress

Interlude 4: Words Are Like Our Children

Buddha Jumping over Walls
Act without Acting, Taste without Tasting

Interlude 5: Like Eating Potato Chips

The Sublime Faith in Illusions
Pieces of Her Heart
Elixirs and the Food of Health
From Banquets to Voyages of Discovery

Epilogue: All Banquets Must Come to an End

Afterword by Linda Rui Feng

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