I’m Sean, a scholar and author passionate about anthropology of food and eating! This website is where I posts various matters on the subject.
I have been interviewed or consulted on various media including: China Daily, CNN travel, Grist, National Geographic, NPR, OMNI Television, PBS, and SCMP among others. I was also a consultant and co-presenter for the award-winning PBS television series: Confucius was a Foodie. I am an Associate at the University of Michigan Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies and my books have won acclaim both internationally and in Canada.
In real life, I hold a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and I work in developing of medical image processing and recognition techniques, as well as various medical devices and informatics technologies.
The complete translation of the Suiyuan Shidan, heavily edited with new annotations and retranscribed from the original 1729 Chinese texts (generously provided by the Harvard-Yenching and Princeton Libraries), was published and launch in October 2018 under the title: Recipes from the Garden of Contentment: Yuan Mei’s Manual of Gastronomy. Since then, it has garnered accolades including Gourmand International‘s Best in the World in 2019 under the category of translations and National Post‘s Best Cookbooks of 2018.
In February 2019, the English trade edition of the translation was published: The Way of Eating: Yuan Mei’s Manual of Gastronomy. In 2020, it won Best in the World from Gourmand International under the Special Awards Category.
Help support my research on this site by purchasing my books though the links.
If you are interested in what I am reading visit my store at Bookshop.org.
How this all started
Way back, I heard about the Suiyuan Shidan, and how it was one of the most influential and important treatise on Chinese cuisine. Being one of those less capable Classical Chinese readers (or indeed even normal Chinese for that matter), I automatically looked for the English translation of the work and found…next to nothing. Sure, Fushia Dunlop in her great memoir, Sharks fin and Sichuan pepper had a translated blurb on congee, and a writer by the name of Nicholas Richards offered translations of several recipes in English, but other then these few sources that was pretty much it. From Google’s results in 2013, it appeared that THE treatise on Chinese cuisine had no complete English translation.
So one night I sat down to slog through the Classical Chinese text available at wikisource, taking notes, looking up phrases and words along to way, and noting everything down in a MS word document. Then a thought hit me; instead of keeping it on my own computer to gather dust, why don’t I post it all on-line in the spirit of sharing? And that’s how all this came about.
This site will continue to change as time goes on so be sure to check back!
From the Blog
…and thus the 2021 winter begins.
Celebrating American Thanksgiving? Here are some ideas to give your meal that special American Chinese (or East Asian) … Continue reading A Thanksgiving based on recipes from the Suiyuan Shidan
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