A Time of Pure Invention
Jen is currently working on a memoir about her time in Cuba.
On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta (Riverhead, 2013) tells the story of how, as a newlywed traveling in Italy, Jen was struck by culinary echoes of the delicacies she ate and cooked back in China, where she'd lived for more than a decade. Was it the Italians or the Chinese, or a culture in between, who created the culinary staple of noodles?
Jen narrates a six-thousand mile journey to discover the connections -- both culinary and cultural -- between east and west. Taking readers from the back alleys of Beijing to the cobblestone squares of Rome, she cooks with women of varying fortunes along the Silk Road, While on this adventure of a lifetime, Jen discovers truths about women, food, and love -- and learns to savor the sweetness of love freely chosen.
"Thrilling ... While carbo-loading in Tibet, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and Iran, among many other stops, Lin-Liu serve up insights on these societies -- with a focus on women's roles -- along with generous helpings of detail and humor."
-- Entertainment Weekly
"An intelligent beach read that will set your stomach rumbling."
-- Los Angeles Times
In the mid aughts, Jen was working as a foreign journalist in Beijing but daydreamed of becoming a cook in a Chinese kitchen. Defying her Chinese-American parents, she enrolled in a local cooking school and embarked on a culinary adventure through China. Recipes and chopping techniques aside, Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China (Harcourt Houghton Mifflin, 2008) describes China’s history and the sweeping changes since China's economic opening through the eyes of Jen's cooking mentors, the beloved Chairman Wang and the streetwise Chef Zhang.
"[Lin-Liu] produces fascinating portraits of the vast world of Chinese cuisine -- struggling noodle-shop owners, world-class chefs, waiters, food critics, and others. Her book casts light on an important aspect of China's vaunted economic reforms: the return of good food to the lives of the Chinese ..."
-- New York Review of Books
"Entertaining and offbeat."
-- Maureen Corrigan of NPR's Fresh Air
"Smart cookie, that Jen Lin-Liu. [She] knows the world loves a good cook, especially one who feeds a hunger for Chinese culture."
-- Washington Post
Jen founded Black Sesame Kitchen, a private kitchen and cooking school in 2008 with two cooking mentors featured in her memoir Serve the People. In the decade since opening, BSK has become a culinary institution in Beijing and has been featured in 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.