Hodder to publish history of China through its food and drink

Hodder to publish history of China through its food and drink

Hodder & Stoughton will publish The Emperor’s Feast, a "unique history of China told through its food and drink", by author and presenter Jonathan Clements.

Ian Wong, assistant editor for non-fiction, acquired world rights from Chelsey Fox at Fox & Howard. The book will be published in hardback, trade paperback, e-book and audio on 11th February 2021, in time for Chinese New Year. 

The Emperor’s Feast will take readers on a "sweeping journey across China and beyond" and will follow journeys made by different ingredients, dishes and eating habits on their way to the modern Chinese table. 

Readers will see the impact of social and political upheavals — the influence of invaders such as the Mongols and the Manchus, or the rise of the Communist Party – and follow Chinese flavours as they are brought by immigrants to other parts of Asia and to Europe and America, says the publisher. 

Wong commented: "Chinese food often has a distinct association — and indeed, stigma — in Britain and America that doesn’t reflect the richness, variety and history it possesses. The Emperor’s Feast will help readers discover a new appreciation for Chinese food, while also offering them a fresh way to learn about the history of China. Jonathan’s work as a presenter for National Geographic and his solid credentials as a historian make him the perfect guide, and I am delighted to be working with him to tell the long-overdue story of something so close to my heart — or stomach."

Clements said: "I wanted to celebrate the diversity of Chinese culture — glimpses of forgotten kingdoms and ancient peoples, and tastes that only flourish in certain provinces. There are stories to be found in every dish on the table — the Tang dynasty noblewomen experimenting with new Silk Road fads or the game-changing impact of ingredients from the Americas. In Covid times, I loved this opportunity to turn my lifelong passion for Chinese food into a year-long feast for the mind."

Clements is a historian specialising in East Asia and is the author of many books, including A Brief History of China (Tuttle Publishing, 2019) and Confucius: A Biography (Albert Bridge Books, 2017). He has presented three seasons of "Route Awakening" (National Geographic), a TV series about icons of Chinese culture.