The Fitzwilliam on Conversations with Tyler
Our first podcast appearance
Fergus and I were recently on Tyler Cowen’s podcast Conversations with Tyler, on a bonus episode helping to interview the chef and scholar of Chinese food, Fuchsia Dunlop.
The episode was recorded in honour of Fuchsia’s excellent new book, Invitation to a Banquet, which is a kind of cultural history of China through its food. I can also heartily recommend her cookbook Every Grain of Rice.
On a per-minute basis, Conversations with Tyler is my favourite podcast. I particularly recommend the episodes with Emily Wilson, Patrick Collison, and Roy Foster. The usual format of CWT is rapid-fire academic interviews, though he experiments with other formats, including interviewing Jonathan Swift from beyond the grave, or – as in this case – having a table of guests discuss a banquet as it is being served to them. This episode was recorded in Mama Chang restaurant in Virginia.
Also on the podcast were Lydia Chang, Rasheed Griffith and Dan Wang. When I thought about who else would be a good fit, Dan was the first person to come to mind; his annual letters are some of my favourite pieces of writing about China ever.
Tyler first asked me and Rasheed to be on the podcast when we were in Chennai over the summer, after having previously asked Fergus at the Great Stagnation Summit in Cambridge. As with most things Tyler says, I couldn’t quite tell if he was messing with me.
Do I have any particular expertise about Chinese food? Does this have anything to do with what we normally write for the Fitzwilliam? Have I ever even been to China?
The answer to all these questions is no.
Nevertheless, I found the conversation to be engaging and fascinating, as we discussed not just food but the history, culture, and geography of China – and how those things relate. We hope you enjoy the podcast, and Fergus and I thank you for your continued support of the Fitzwilliam in all our ventures, Chinese cuisine-related or otherwise.
Thanks so much to everyone involved for organising the superb meal, and happy Christmas everyone!
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PS For those interested, I nabbed a copy of the menu on the way out:
四喜拼盘 Cold Platter
捞汁Amish香菇 Braised Amish Shiitakes
桂花酒酿芸豆 White Fava Beans with Fermented Rice Wine
芝麻牛肉粒 Mala Beef with Sesame
蓝蟹肉拌鲜腐皮 Tofu Skin with Crab Meat
点心 Dim Sum
黑毛猪秋葵锅贴 Pan-fried Amish Iberico dumpling
三丝香菇脆卷 Shiitake Spring Roll
新鲜洋参炖Amish人鸡汤 Ginseng Amish Chicken Soup
大菜 Main Course
锅巴海鲜烩 Seafood Curry with Crispy Rice
辣子野生鲜贝 Red Chili Pepper Scallops
羊肉炖老家鱼圆 Homemade Fish Ball and Lamb Stew
铁板煎粉蒸肉 Pan-fried Grandma's Steamed Pork Belly
珍珠虾蟹球 Seafood Pearl with Sticky Rice
小椒牛肉片（韭黄）Small Pepper Beef Stir Fry with Chives
丝瓜烩鲜百合 Chinese Luffa with fresh Lily Bulb
炸溜珊瑚欧鲈 Mandarin Bronzino Fish
桃胶吉祥羮 Peach Tree Sap
An aubergine dish was also added especially for me, the only vegetarian at the table, and prepared by the legendary Peter Chang.