One of the most interesting Asian cookbooks released this year had no color photographs. Yes, no food porn was in The Hakka Cookbook by Linda Lau Anusasananan. In an era where readers love to cook with their eyes, it was a gutsy move on UC Press to publish a cookbook only graced by simple watercolors. Without photos to distract, you have to read and flip each page (imagine that!), following the author’s journey through a cuisine and culture.
The Hakka Cookbook may seem like it’s for Chinese food geeks -- there are maps, Chinese characters and Romanized pinyin Mandarin. The book begs you to spend time with it. Once that you start looking at it, you’ll be stuck in your chair for at least a good hour. You’ll pick out familiar dishes seen on Chinese restaurant menus.