Distinguished Speaker Series

Michelle King, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Chop Fry Watch Learn: How Fu Pei-mei Reinvented Chinese Cooking for a Television Generation

Sept. 21 7:30–8:30 pm (EDT) via Zoom Webinar

Register here


Lecture Abstract

Chop Fry Watch Learn is a cultural and social history of postwar Taiwan, told through the life and career of Fu Pei-mei (1931-2004), cookbook author and television personality, often called the “Julia Child of Chinese Cooking.” Fu authored dozens of cookbooks and appeared as an instructor on television for four decades, beginning in 1962. Women in her generation, which included both housewives and career women, turned to Fu because she taught them how to cook an astounding range of unfamiliar Chinese regional dishes on their television sets, in ways their own mothers and grandmothers never could. As her fame grew, Fu and her cookbooks traveled beyond the borders of Taiwan, teaching the rest of the world how to cook Chinese food. Fu’s story offers a way to examine a much more personal and intimate set of concerns about food, family, gender roles, and cultural identity. This is not a story of timeless tradition, but of modern transformation—of self and family, of cuisine and society. 


About the Speaker

Michelle T. King is an Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in modern Chinese gender and food history. She was recently awarded a 2020-21 National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholars grant for her book project on Taiwan's beloved postwar television cooking celebrity, Fu Pei-mei (1931-2004). She is the editor of Culinary Nationalism in Asia (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019) and author of Between Birth and Death: Female Infanticide in Nineteenth-Century China (Stanford University Press, 2014). Her work has also appeared in Food and FoodwaysGlobal Food HistoryGastronomicaJournal of Women’s HistorySocial History, and other publications.