386 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Nov 2014

Swallowing Clouds

A Playful Journey through Chinese Culture, Language, and Cuisine

By A. Zee; Afterword by Linda Rui Feng
University of Washington Press
Physics professor Zee writes about how to understand the menus in Chinese restaurants, explaining the characters, what they mean, and the colorful stories behind the names of various dishes. Anne Tyler (in the Washington Post) called Swallowing Clouds "a study of the very nature of Chinese culture. Zee has a quirky, personal style that draws the reader in.
A. Zee is professor of theoretical physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the author of Fearful Symmetry: The Search for Beauty in Modern Physics and An Old Man's Toy: Gravity at Work and Play in Einstein's Universe.


Time Line

A Word about Pronunciation


Beijing Men Built a Fire

Slicing through Water

Interlude 1: Phonetics, or Why Some Characters Look Horribly Complicated

Sleep of the Truly Inebriated

Swallowing Clouds

Chinese Pigs Stand

Interlude 2: The Appalling Ignorance of Some Scribes


A Delicacy for Aging Men

No Contest between Fish and a Bear with Eight Legs

Courtesans Do Not Eat Crabs


Interlude 3: To All You Carnivores

The Sweet Fragrance of Crops Ripening

How to Avoid Being Vulgar

The Pockmarked Woman and the Pearly Empress


Interlude 4: Words Are Like Our Children


Buddha Jumping over Walls

Act without Acting, Taste without Tasting

Interlude 5: Like Eating Potato Chips


The Sublime Faith in Illusions

Pieces of Her Heart

Elixirs and the Food of Health

From Banquets to Voyages of Discovery

Epilogue: All Banquets Must Come to an End

Afterword by Linda Rui Feng


Appendix A. How to Exercise Your Arm and Throat while Drinking

Appendix B. A Few Recipes



Table of Dynasties

Table of Some Common Radicals Used in this Book

Table of Characters and Radicals Cited by Chapter


A Final Note

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