Every night I read my little kids three books followed by three bedtime stories about Hong Kong. For the Hong Kong stories, we might focus on drinks (red bean ice, milk tea, and the etiquette of pouring tea at dim sum) or modes of transportation (tram, ferry, double-decker bus).
So today when I received newly published Roots, Fruits, Shoots and Leaves: A guide to shopping at Chinese fresh food markets (Blacksmith Books, 2012) by Pam Shookman, I grabbed it when we went upstairs for bedtime.
Pocket sized and chock full of colorful photos, Roots, Fruits, Shoots and Leaves is a must-read not just for shoppers, but for people who enjoy Asian cuisine.
The kids loved the book and not only paid close attention, they repeated the name of each fruit or vegetable, dried food or fish. It was fun to see the joy in their eyes when they recognized an ingredient we had talked about in our bedtime stories, including:
*blood tofu (as part of the story about the different types of tofu)
*red Chinese dates (the ingredient that made me gag when my former husband cooked fish head soup after number one son was born)
*mangosteens (the fruit my husband Tom photographed on our first day in Hong Kong this year)
*fish maw (the ingredient in a soup my mother and I ate after attending the Vietnamese refugee camp Christmas pageant in 1990)
*abalone (a popular dish in Cantonese banquets)
*dragon fruit (an ingredient in the fruit salad Tom and I ate for breakfast most days on our trip this spring)
These are just a smattering of the book’s many ingredients, many of which I’d never heard of. The book also includes a glossary, photos of price signs in markets, and a list and descriptions of wet markets in Hong Kong.
It’s tragic that author Pam Shookman passed away from cancer as this book was in production. She was an authority on Asian cuisines and wet markets, and her expertise shines though in Roots, Fruits, Shoots and Leaves. All royalties will be donated to the Hong Kong Cancer Fund.