“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Peking Noir – A Reminder

Posted: September 3rd, 2021 | No Comments »

Just a reminder that all 6 episodes of Peking Noir are still available to download & listen to if you haven’t yet – BBC Sounds, Spotify, iTunes et al….

A superb evocation of the louche underworld of inter war China’ Radio Times

‘Riveting…perfect listening for a long winter’s night… 5 stars’ Daily Mail

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Images of China – Carl Crow vs Edgar Snow….

Posted: September 2nd, 2021 | No Comments »

Stumbled across this academic article from the late 1970s comparing & contrasting the images of China presented in the two best-selling books on China in 1930s America – Carl’s 400 Million Customers and Edgar Snow’s Red Star Over China (published roughly within a year of each other)….here’s the full citation for anyone interested – Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Feb., 1978), pp. 107-122 (16 pages)

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Bon Appetit: Secrets from Shanghai Kitchens – Lady Maze and Mrs Bowden

Posted: September 1st, 2021 | No Comments »

The other day I mentioned the cookbook Bon Appetit: Secrets from Shanghai Kitchens (1940). It was a compilation of recipes from various somewhat posh foreign notables in Shanghai. The book was compiled by Laura Gwendoline Maze and Dorothy Bowden – both Australians.

Laura Maze, aka Lady Maze, was the wife of Sir Frederick Wiliam Maze, the very important Inspector-General of the Chinese Maritime Customs between 1929 and 1943. He was the nephew of Sir Robert Hart and a fellow Ulsterman. For those who like their trade officials biographies in more detail there is a very long Wikipedia entry on him here. The point being that he married Laura, a Queenslander. Lady Maze’s collaborator was Dorothy Bowden, the wife of V. G. Bowden, from Sydney and Australian Trade Commissioner in Shanghai from 1935 to 1941.

Unfortunately I have pictures of both Sir Fred Maze and Vivian Bowden, but not their wives?

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A Little Digging Around on the Nathan Rabinovitch in Old Shanghai Story

Posted: August 31st, 2021 | No Comments »

Nathan Rabinovitch pops up in many researches of old Shanghai…he’s an interesting stopry as this article by Jordyn Haime recounts…however, i’m convinced he talked big and was a mythomaniac. However, that doesn’t mean he isn’t an interesting element in the old Shanghai underworld story or typical of quite a few chancers and collaborators of the time….have a read for yourself…click here

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More on Yorkshire Pudding in Shanghai…

Posted: August 25th, 2021 | No Comments »

Yesterday i posted on the strange experience of Chiang Yee enjoying (at least let’s assume he enjoyed) a Yorkshire Pudding in 1933 Shanghai. No leads on the actual restaurant yet, but intrepid Shanghai historian and culinary expert Bill Savadove suggests Chiang may have dined at one of Shanghai’s many “fancaiguan” — Chinese-owned restaurants serving approximations of foreign food.

And, also courtesy of Bill, a recipe for Yorkshire Pudding in the expatriate-written cookbook Bon Appetit: Secrets from Shanghai Kitchens (1940). Lady Blackburn, wife of Sir Arthur Blackburn, contributed the recipe to the book. Blackburn (K.C.M.G., C.B.E.) was at the time the Chinese Counsellor at the British Embassy Offices in Shanghai. The book was compiled by Laura G Maze and Dorothy Bowden (more on them tomorrow).

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Chiang Yee’s Yorkshire Pudding in Shanghai (1933)…

Posted: August 24th, 2021 | No Comments »

I wonder if anyone can solve this old Shanghai query? Sadly Chiang Yee doesn’t recall the name of the establishment he dined in. Here’s the background – it’s 1933 and the Jiujiang artist and magistrate (having just resigned and decided to travel to England) Chiang Yee, aka The Silent Traveller, is about to set sail from Shanghai for England (where he will live until 1955). Later in 1940/1941 Chiang will travel from London to Yorkshire to paint, draw, write and produce his book The Silent Traveller in the Yorkshire Dales. ‘Some friends’ (he doesn’t say whether they were Chinese or British) take him for a meal at a Shanghai restaurant that specialises in ‘foreign’ (British?) food – I hesitate to use the word ‘cuisine’ relating to Britih food in 1933. Chiang writes 12 years later recalling this experience:

‘It was the first time i heard the name ‘Yorkshire’…You can perhaps guess that i met the name in connexion (sic) with Yorkshire Pudding on the menu. Yorkshire pudding in Shanghai! It was like having Peking roast duck set before one in a Chinese restuarant in London.’

Of course there were any number of restaurants offering ‘foreign cuisine’ including the famous Astor House Hotel Grill Room, the Horse and Hounds pub in the Cathay Hotel, across the road at the Palace. But any ideas of where Yorkshire pudding was on the menu?

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The Macanese Diaspora in British Hong Kong: A Century of Trans-imperial Drifting – sept 15 2021

Posted: August 23rd, 2021 | No Comments »

Catherine Chan’s new book on the Macanese in Hong Kong looks interesting….

Diaspora transformed the urban terrain of colonial societies, creating polyglot worlds out of neighborhoods, workplaces, recreational clubs and public spheres. It was within these spaces that communities reimagined and reshaped their public identities vis-à-vis emerging government policies and perceptions from other communities. Through a century of Macanese activities in British Hong Kong, this book explores how mixed-race diasporic communities survived within unequal, racialized and biased systems beyond the colonizer-colonized dichotomy. Originating from Portuguese Macau yet living outside the control of the empire, the Macanese freely associated with more than one identity and pledged allegiance to multiple communal, political and civic affiliations. They drew on colorful imaginations of the Portuguese and British empires in responding to a spectrum of changes encompassing Macau’s woes, Hong Kong’s injustice, Portugal’s political transitions, global developments in print culture and the rise of new nationalisms during the inter-war period.

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Destination Peking in a whole bunch of North America Indie bookstores this August

Posted: August 20th, 2021 | No Comments »

Despite a pandemic, shiping restrictions out of Hong Kong, ships getting stuck in canals and shedding containers, warehouses pinged, the power of online retailers, e-books and a hundred and one other minor issues copies of Destination Peking intended for independent bookstores across North America finally arrived and are at all the stores below and a good few more…most have both Destination Shanghai and Destination Peking (courtesy of the indefatigable Blacksmith Books of Hong Kong)…

Do you need another excuse to go visit, surf to or call up your local indie bookstore?

AN UNLIKELY STORY – PLAINVILLE, MA

BARTLEBYS BOOKS & MUSIC – WILMINGTON, DE

BOOK PEOPLE – AUSTIN, TX

BOOKHAMPTON – EAST HAMPTON, NY

BOSWELL BOOK COMPANY – MILWAUKEE

BRAZOS BOOKSTORE INC – HOUSTON

BREAKWATER BOOKS – GUILFORD, CT

BREWSTER BOOKSTORE – BREWSTER, MA

BROOKLINE BOOKSMITH – BROOKLINE, MA

CHAUCERS BOOKSTORE – SANTA BARBARA, CA

CONCORD BOOKSHOP – CONCORD, MA

DEVANEY DOAK & GARRETT – FARMINGTON, ME

GIBSONS BOOK STORE – CONCORD, NH

IVY’S BOOKSHOP – VICTORIA, BC

MYSTIC BOOKS – MYSTIC, ON

NOVEL – MEMPHIS, TN

PRINT: A BOOKSTORE – PORTLAND, ME

QUAIL RIDGE BOOKS – RALEIGH, NC

SAVOY BOOKSHOP & CAFÉ – WESTERLY, RI

STOWE BOOKS  – STOWE, VT

TATNUCK BOOKSELLER – WESTBOROUGH, MA

THE BOOKERY – MANCHESTER, NH

THE BOOKLOFT – GREAT BARRINGTON, MA

THE BOOKWORM OF EDWARDS – EDWARDS, CO

THE COUNTRY BOOKSELLER – WOLFEBORO, NH

THE NORWICH BOOKSTORE – NORWICH, VT

TOADSTOOL BOOKSHOP – NASHUA, NH

TOADSTOOL BOOKSHOP – KEENE, NH

TOADSTOOL BOOKSHOP – PETERBOROUGH, NH

WELLESLEY BOOKS – WELLESLEY, MA

WHITE BIRCH BOOKSELLERS – NORTH CONWAY, NH

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