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Learning to cook the Chinese way: Australian Chinese cookbooks of the 1950s

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The history of Chinese migration to Australia and in particular the impact of discriminatory legislation has been the subject of considerable scholarship. Less well documented is the contribution of Chinese immigrants to Australia’s food culture. Chinese cooks had been at work in Australia since at least the 1850s, and cafés and restaurants were serving Chinese food in both urban and rural centres by the 1930s. The first cookery books devoted to Chinese recipes were written by Australian Chinese and published after the Second World War. They provided the curious and the adventurous with information that allowed them to both confidently order food in restaurants and experiment with cooking at home. An important and neglected source, this survey of these publications suggests some of the ways in which Chinese cooks adapted and adopted to produce an ‘Australianized’ Chinese menu.
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Keywords: Australia; China; Chinese food; cookbooks; globilization; recipes; ‘Australianization’

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Central Queensland University

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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  • The Australasian Journal of Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of everyday cultures. It is concerned with the study of the social practices and the cultural meanings that are produced and are circulated through the processes and practices of everyday life. As a product of consumption, an intellectual object of inquiry, and as an integral component of the dynamic forces that shape societies. The journal will be receptive to articles which focus on Australasian examples, or broader comparative and theoretical questions viewed through an Australasian lens.
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