Invitation to a Banquet

Invitation to a Banquet

The Story of Chinese Food


Brought to you by Penguin.

The epic tale of the world's most sophisticated gastronomic culture, brilliantly told through thirty dishes at a Chinese banquet

Chinese was the first truly global cuisine. When the first Chinese labourers began to sojourn and settle abroad, restaurants appeared in their wake. Yet Chinese has the curious distinction of being both one of the world's best-loved food cultures and one of the least understood. For more than a century, the overwhelming dominance of a simplified form of Cantonese cooking has ensured that few foreigners experienced anything of the richness or sophistication of China's local food traditions - but today that is beginning to change.

In Invitation to a Banquet, award-winning cook and writer Fuchsia Dunlop explores the culture, history and philosophy informing real Chinese cookery. Taking the form of a banquet menu, each chapter embarks on a deep dive into a particular dish that expresses a singular aspect of Chinese gastronomy, before finishing with a recipe. Starting with sweet-and-sour pork, that classic of British Chinese takeaway cooking, Dunlop examines the ways in which Chinese food has been understood and misunderstood in the West since its earliest days as an immigrant cuisine. Then the real feast begins: a journey into Chinese food as it is made, cooked, eaten and considered in China itself, through a diverse series of dishes including Mapo Tofu, Dongbo Pork, Knife-scraped Noodles and Pomelo Pith with Shrimp Eggs.

Weaving together history, mouthwatering descriptions of food and on-the-ground research conducted over the course of twenty-five years, Invitation to a Banquet is a lively tribute to the pleasures and mysteries of Chinese cuisine.

©2023 Fuchsia Dunlop (P)2023 Penguin Audio


  • A brilliant, passionate and spellbinding tour de force
    Claudia Roden

About the author

Fuchsia Dunlop

Fuchsia Dunlop was the first Westerner to train as a chef at the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine, and has been travelling around China, researching and cooking Chinese food, for some 30 years. Her award-winning and bestselling books include The Food of Sichuan, Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper, Every Grain of Rice and Land of Fish and Rice, several of which are now published in translation in China. Based in London, she speaks, reads and writes Chinese.
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