Learning to cook the Chinese way: Australian Chinese cookbooks of the 1950s | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2045-5852
  • E-ISSN: 2045-5860



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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