The Last Chinese Chef: A Novel
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
When Maggie McElroy, a widowed American food writer, learns of a Chinese paternity claim against her late husband’s estate, she has to go immediately to Beijing. She asks her magazine for time off, but her editor counters with an assignment: to profile the rising culinary star Sam Liang.
In China Maggie unties the knots of her husband’s past, finding out more than she expected about him and about herself. With Sam as her guide, she is also drawn deep into a world of food rooted in centuries of history and philosophy. To her surprise she begins to be transformed by the cuisine, by Sam’s family -- a querulous but loving pack of cooks and diners -- and most of all by Sam himself. The Last Chinese Chef is the exhilarating story of a woman regaining her soul in the most unexpected of places.
the thought of her husband. The dial had moved. She had made love to someone. Sam had put on pajamas and was tying the string at his waist, free in front of her, his hair still loose. She reached out and gathered it and let it drop. The touch made him raise his face, happy. She felt it too. This was the night Matt would start to become a memory. Sam set out two rattan recliners in the court and lit a sheltered candle between them. They lay side by side and watched the leaves above their heads.
care. Actually the woman I was going to go with, when I was just talking to her, she asked why an acquaintance of mine would be willing to do this. I explained about your uncle. She said since it was a family matter I should call you right away and make the arrangements. As if that trumped everything.” China, he thought, loving the place. “Well, you know my answer already, don’t you? Yes. I will do it. Thank you.” “No problem,” she said, and he heard the touch of relief in her voice, too.
liked her when he met her three years before, but that was because she came with Matt, and Matt had become his friend in the course of the all-night rambles that had taken them to the very edges of what the Chinese called the guiding, the fixed rules. Don’t worry, I’ll keep your secrets, Carey had said to him. Naturally this meant he might someday have to lie to Matt’s wife, but since he didn’t know her back then, it was easy to promise. Now Matt was gone, and he was helping the wife — of course.
ringing. “You should sit down and take a rest and let us clean this up,” he heard her say. “And don’t say another word to Sam right now.” She gently pushed him down into a chair. In his half-lubricated state a foreign woman coming at him and then actually touching him was too much; he did exactly what she said and sank into the chair, mute. “Wei?” Sam heard Liang Yeh say on the other end. “Wei,” said Sam. “Dad. I need you. Please come right now.” “My son, this is — ” “Now,” Sam cut in. “I
Beijing. Arrival in thirty-six hours. That was still two business days before the ruling. Not much time. But enough. Gao Lan had said to call anytime — what had she said? Dark or light — but it was past midnight, so Maggie would wait. There was always the possibility that her employer was in town. Carey was a different matter. Maggie knew he was up. It was possible he was with a woman, she supposed, but she doubted that would stop him from answering his phone. Her intuition was correct. He