By George Lee
2024 • Ten Speed Press
George Lee grew up with his A-Gong (grandfather) in the quiet refuge of Tamsui, Taiwan. He took part in the myriad Taiwanese food traditions his A-Gong nurtured, until he was seventeen, when his A-Gong passed. In observation of the death, he and his family undertook a set of Buddhist funeral customs and abstained from eating meat. For a hundred days, they ate at the monastery and the nuns there taught him to cook.
Years later, he revisits the lessons and pieces them into the story of his family’s cooking. Some recipes he shares here are directly from childhood: Han-tsî-bê, an everyday breakfast congee floating with fist-sized chunks of golden sweet potatoes, or the quintessential preserve Tshài-póo, crunchy strips of sun-dried daikon radish that salt the air for a few days in January. Others tread the boundaries between old and new: such as Sòo-lóo-pn̄g, a meatless rendition of the hand-cut pork bits his mom braised in soy sauce and ladled over rice.
While writing this book, George wandered all over Taiwan with his friend Laurent Hsia, who took photos along the way. Together, they sought out the foods and places tied to their memories growing up. Like the grandpa who slung a bag of apples along the zebra crossing to exit the morning market, or the old couple on the bus in black and white, sitting side by side and peering forward, the two found themselves . . . always afoot, traveling. A-Gong’s Table follows the rhythm of their footsteps: a pulse that takes you quietly through the book and through Taiwan, from morning to night.
Tags: asia, asian, plant-based, Pre-Order, taiwanese, vegan