My Life On A Plate: Fuchsia Dunlop

Fuchsia Dunlop is one of Britain’s foremost experts on Chinese food – in particular Sichuanese cuisine
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The Independent Online

My favourite restaurant: Yu's Family Kitchen in the Sichuanese capital, Chengdu, where I used to live. Chef Yu Bo is an old friend of mine, and he is a magician in the kitchen. His speciality is banquets served in the style of an old-fashioned mandarin's household – they can run to as many as 42 courses. At home in London, my favourite place is St John Bread and Wine, opposite Spitalfields Market.

Comfort eating: My mother's shepherd's pie. The frequency with which I think of shepherd's pie is a good measure of how homesick I'm feeling during a long trip to China. My other sanctuary in terms of food is Chinese rice porridge eaten with fermented beancurd and pickles, and perhaps a stir-fried vegetable. It's very soothing.

My top cookbook: For nostalgic reasons I might have to choose Leith's cookery course by Prudence Leith and Caroline Waldegrave, because I was given it when I was 11 and learnt so much from it; or perhaps my scuffed textbook from the Sichuanese Institute of Higher Cuisine, where I trained as a chef in the mid-1900s; it brings back weird and wonderful memories. My other favourites include Claudia Roden's Book of Middle Eastern food and Yan-kit So's Classic Chinese Cookbook.

The food shop I can't walk past: Neal's Yard Dairy in Covent Garden – I love the fact that the staff insist on feeling you samples and always buy the Stichelton blue cheese.

What's in my fridge: Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Jars of Chinese fermented beancurd (good on toast), Sichuanese chilli bean paste, 'Chinese olive vegetable' (a preserved mustard green which is delicious with fried eggs), Patum Peperium, butter, yoghurt and cheese.

Fuchsia Dunlop is the author of two Chinese cookery books, and Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, which is published by Ebury Press on 6th March (£16.99).