Usually my time for reading books without large illustrations or words that rhyme is while waiting for Audrey to fall asleep or during long trips in the car. Last night I finally finished my latest book, “The Last Chinese Chef.”

From Publishers Weekly: A recently widowed American food writer finds solace and love—and the most inspiring food she’s ever encountered—during a visit to China in Mones’s sumptuous latest. Still reeling from husband’s accidental death a year ago, food writer Maggie McElroy is flummoxed when a paternity claim is filed against Matt’s estate from Beijing, where he sometimes traveled for business. Before Maggie embarks on the obligatory trip to investigate, her editor assigns her to write a profile on Sam Liang, a half-Chinese American chef living in Beijing who is about to enter a prestigious cooking competition. Sam’s old-school recipes and history lessons of high Chinese cuisine kick-start Maggie’s dulled passion for food and help her let go of her grief. Though the narrative can get bogged down in the minutiae of Chinese culinary history (filtered through the experiences of Sam’s family), Mones’s descriptions of fine cuisine are tantalizing, and her protagonist’s quest is bracing and unburdened by melodrama. Early in her visit, Maggie scoffs at the idea that “food can heal the human heart.” Mones smartly proves her wrong.

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