NYU Shanghai Reads

What is NYU Shanghai Reads?

NYU Shanghai Reads is a program to bring the NYU Shanghai community together around a single common text chosen to spark intercultural dialogue among members of our diverse community. While serving as a key theme for first-year orientation, the whole university community is also welcome to participate through a series of events throughout the academic year.

2021-2022: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper

2021-2022: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper

Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop is the NYU Shanghai Reads Selection for the 2021-22 academic year.

In this vivid and lively memoir, English writer and chef Fuchsia Dunlop reflects on her time spent in Sichuan and other parts of China learning varied styles of Chinese cookery. Through a variety of food-filled anecdotes, Dunlop takes the reader on a sensory and cultural journey through Sichuan and beyond.

Along the way, Dunlop explores her own evolving relationship to Chinese food and culture. She notes the many ways in which her contact with (and embrace of) ‘the foreign’ has changed her, and at times even made her feel as if she were a foreigner in her own home culture. Dunlop’s story urges us to consider how our relationship with food often works to enforce the boundaries between the familiar and the foreign, and how culinary experiences can destabilize those boundaries -- if we are brave enough to let them.

Accessing the Book

All members of the NYU Shanghai community are encouraged to join us in reading this book and participating in campus-wide programming. You can purchase an e-copy of Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper through the Amazon Kindle store, or borrow a copy of the book from our library. This book is available in English and Chinese.

This book might inspire you to explore additional resources on the subject of Chinese cooking, eating, and food culture. We’ve compiled a list of books, DVDs, web resources, and online videos for you to explore. Click on any title that looks interesting to find a brief abstract of the item. Web resources will include a URL that links you to the resource; we’ve also included a call number for any DVD or book that is available in our library.

Resources and Support

Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper contains descriptions of animal butchery that may be disturbing to some readers. If you need emotional support while reading Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, our professional counselors are available to talk through the Wellness Exchange hotline 24/7 at +86-21-2059-9999 or +1-212-443-9999. You can also contact the Student Health Center at shanghai.health@nyu.edu.

Upcoming Events

NYU Shanghai Reads hold panels and events open to the whole community throughout the academic year. Please find information on upcoming events below. Should you have any questions about NYU Shanghai Reads, please contact us at shanghai.reads@nyu.edu.

A Taste of Xinjiang: Stories of Food in Kashgar



Date & Time: September 28, 2021 (Tuesday), 7-8pm, mixed-mode

Location: Pudong Academic Building Room 604

In this talk, NYUSH professor and food historian Shuang Wen will narrate the stories behind the foods discussed in the chapter "Journey to the West," of Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper, this year's NYUSH Reads text. Professor Wen will discuss the history of dishes such as nan, samsa made in a tandoor oven, polo (or pilaf as an alternative spelling), and springy pulled noodles, and more. Some of the dishes will be provided as refreshments for you to try out! With photos taken by herself in Xinjiang, Prof. Wen invites the students to think deeper about the history of crop cultivation and food technology transfer between China and Central/West Asia. This event will take place on Tuesday, September 28th at 7PM online and in person in Room 604.

Please RSVP for the event.

Video Project

Have a favorite food you want to share? We'd love to hear about it! The NYU Shanghai Reads Program is collecting videos from community members, highlighting your traditional foods or foods from another culture that you love. Read more about the project to enter your own video:File nyu_shanghai_reads_video_project.docx

Past Events

New Student Orientation (NSO) Summer Reads Session

Have you ever thought about the stories behind the foods that taste like home to you? How did these dishes and their variations come about? What is the history behind their ingredients and preparation?

To kick off this year’s NYU Shanghai Reads Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper, incoming first-year students will be sharing their stories and findings on their taste of home through BrightSpace over the summer. During New Student Orientation in late August 2021, first-year students will then take part in small group discussions centered around the theme of “encountering cultures.” Facilitated discussions encourage students to reflect on, experience, and understand diversity both within and outside of their own communities through the lens of food.