A while back I heard about the Suiyuan Shidan (隨園食單), 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 (粥), chaxiubao has a section in the preface of his blog, and a writer by the name of Nicholas Richards offers translations of several recipes in English, but other then these few sources that was pretty much it. From Google’s results, it appears that THE treatise on Chinese cuisine has 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? This way those who want it can have access to an English translation of the Suiyuan Shidan. With everything online, I can also look it up whenever I want. Plus, it’ll be a good motivation to keep me moving forth on this little project instead of eventually letting “real life” take over and forgetting about it altogether. So in short, the purpose of the blog is to provide a publicly available translation of the Suiyuan Shidan, to give some possibly relevant notes on the side on translation, and my own random thoughts on various stuff associated with the text.
A side note: The Chinese title of Suiyuan Shidan has also been translated as everything from “Recipes from Sui Garden“, “Food list of the Garden of Contentment“, “Cookery list of Suiyuan“, and “Suiyuan Cookbook“. I would translated it as either “Cuisine from the Garden of Leisure” or “The Sui Garden Manual of Cuisine“. Regardless, I think the Pinyin spelling is probably the least ambiguous way of referring to this work and thus I will simply call it “Suiyuan Shidan”. Perhaps the topic of translating the name deserves it own post.
Otherwise that’s about it. I do computer assisted medical technology work/research in real life and all this is purely hobby. It probably shows. If you have any thoughts on the translation, or want to point out grammatical errors or otherwise, do comment. Constructive feedback is always appreciated.
All work in this site is under the Creative Commons License:
Translating the Suiyuan Shidan by Sean J.S. Chen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
I’m thinking about removing the NC part of this but as of now I’m comfortably sitting on the fence.