The Art of Escapism Cooking: A Survival Story, with Intensely Good Flavors (Hardcover)
In this inventive and intensely personal cookbook, the blogger behind the award-winning ladyandpups.com reveals how she cooked her way out of an untenable living situation, with more than eighty delicious Asian-inspired dishes with influences from around the world.
For Mandy Lee, moving from New York to Beijing for her husband’s work wasn’t an exotic adventure—it was an ordeal. Growing increasingly exasperated with China’s stifling political climate, its infuriating bureaucracy, and its choking pollution, she began “an unapologetically angry food blog,” LadyandPups.com, to keep herself from going mad.
Mandy cooked because it channeled her focus, helping her cope with the difficult circumstances of her new life. She filled her kitchen with warming spices and sticky sauces while she shared recipes and observations about life, food, and cooking in her blog posts. Born in Taiwan and raised in Vancouver, she came of age food-wise in New York City and now lives in Hong Kong; her food reflects the many places she’s lived. This entertaining and unusual cookbook is the story of how “escapism cooking”—using the kitchen as a refuge and ultimately creating delicious and satisfying meals—helped her crawl out of her expat limbo.
Illustrated with her own gorgeous photography, The Art of Escapism Cooking provides that comforting feeling a good meal provides. Here are dozens of innovative and often Asian-influenced recipes, divided into categories by mood and occasion, such as:
For Getting Out of Bed
Poached Eggs with Miso-Browned Butter Hollandaise
Crackling Pancake with Caramel-Clustered Blueberries and Balsamic Honey
Buffalo Fried Chicken Ramen
Crab Bisque Tsukemen
For a Crowd
Cumin Lamb Rib Burger
Italian Meatballs in Taiwanese Rouzao Sauce
Wontons with Shrimp and Chili Coconut Oil and Herbed Yogurt
Spicy Chickpea Poppers
Mochi with Peanut Brown Sugar and Ice Cream
Recycled Nuts and Caramel Apple Cake
Every dish is sublimely delicious and worth the time and attention required. Mandy also demystifies unfamiliar ingredients and where to find them, shares her favorite tools, and provides instructions for essential condiments for the pantry and fridge, such as Ramen Seasoning, Fried Chili Verde Sauce, Caramelized Onion Powder Paste, and her Ultimate Sichuan Chile Oil.
Mandy lee founded her award-winning "angry food blog," Lady and Pups, in 2012 out of sheer frustration after moving from New York City to Beijing. She and her blog have been featured in numerous publications and sites, including Saveur, FoodandWine.com, CNN.com, Yahoo, Food52, and WashingtonPost.com. She currently lives in Hong Kong with her husband and pups.
“Lee, who vents about living abroad in her Lady and Pups blog, fuels this stunning cookbook with the ferocity of Sichuan peppercorns and chili oil. . . . Lee is as gifted a writer as she is a cook. . . . [A] unique and deeply felt debut.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Instead of the typical posts of gorgeous food paired with gee-life’s-great text, Lee’s gorgeous food is paired with extremely crafted blasts of bile and despair; it’s like looking at a Caravaggio while listening to Rammstein. Her book, . . . pushes the edges of intensity in terms of flavor and fierce originality. (And that’s just the writing.) — New York Times Book Review
“In [her] inimitably wry voice, [Lee] shares her story of discovering cooking’s healing powers during an extremely difficult time, alongside more than 100 recipes many of which are boldly influenced by Chinese, Korean, Thai, and other cuisines.” — Booklist
“The Art of Escapism Cooking” by Taiwanese-born, Hong Kong-based food blogger Mandy Lee . . . records her agonizing displacement — and the cooking that helped her endure it — when she moved from New York to Beijing for her husband’s job. — Washington Post
"Thrilling food. . . . Lee’s conversational writing makes the recipes and dynamic flavor combinations feel achievable. . . . [She] scoffs at any notion of what should or cannot be done because of tradition. . . . VERDICT If ever a cookbook could be described as exciting this one would be it. Highly recommended." — Library Journal
"If you’re familiar with the blog Lady & Pups, you’ll know to expect both eye-popping photography and fantastically engaging words and stories from this book—and, yes, lots of recipes you’ll want to make immediately (Poached Eggs with Miso Burnt Butter Hollandaise, for instance, and Buffalo Chicken Ramen too)." — Chowhound
“The recipes in the book are enticing–including the delicious looking crackling-studded pork belly burger that graces the cover.” — Post Magazine
Mandy Lee is an absolutely talented chef and now writer . . . The Art of Escapism Cooking proves both in one delicious cookbook. . . . You don't have to be a chef to whip up some of these beautiful dishes. . . . This cookbook is the perfect companion to any expert chef or amateur cook. — Sophie Matthews for Women.com
Part dark wit, part all-consuming food worship, The Art of Escapism Cooking will make the perfect gift for an adventurous home chef or that spice fanatic who would love to place a condiment called "Helldust" next to the salt and pepper. — Shelf Awareness
I was completely absorbed . . . It’s the same sort of awe I feel when I’m reading a poem that manages to twist language in a way I’d never considered before or when I go to an art exhibit and feel reality start to melt away. — The Takeout