The Dinner That Cooked Itself – J.C. Hsyu

21535365The Dinner That Cooked Itself by J.C. Hsyu

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Publishers Group Canada
Publication Date: 2014
Publisher: Flying Eye Books
Genres & Themes: Picture Book, Folklore, Food, Superstition, Fantasy, Marriage


Long, long ago, in a small town in ancient China, there lived an honest and respectful man called Tuan. Tuan was lonely and looked hard for a wife, but even the matchmaker couldn’t help him. One night, however, Tuan’s luck changed. And so begins the story of Tuan, White Wave, and the Dinner that Cooked Itself. This beautiful and enchanting Chinese fairytale will captivate the imagination with the perfect blend of magic and realism!


I quite liked the premise of this book. Food that just appears out of thin air? Interesting. Clearly not realistic, but then again, not everything has to be and I do enjoy fantasy tales that are well told.

This one is… curious but not exactly surprising. I find that the standards of our main character are too high. Though I do believe in some superstitions, I don’t think you can guess your future or the state of a relationship by just looking at facts that you have no control over.

For example, I am a Cancer, as I was born in late June, and surely Cancer has its own astrological signs that it prefers and those that it would rather stay far away from but personally I never, ever asked the astrological sign of a guy in order to know if our astrological signs combined would make a great team.

But anyway, in this tale the hero lives in a superstitious time or perhaps culture, so he denies himself two lovely women because of the year they were born in and the characters in their names… One is actually perfect but too high-class for his poor self. This leads him to finding a magical little creature that solves his food problem.

The story is atmospheric and the graphics have a cinematographic feeling to them, which is not surprising considering that the authors both work in animation. I enjoyed the story, but I did find it a bit too focused on superstition. It doesn’t mean that I don’t respect the culture—you don’t have to agree with something to be able to respect it.


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