Chinese food writing

These are just some of the books I’ve managed to collect. English titles are loosely translated.

  • 300 Chinese Recipes for the Home 家庭向支那料理三百種, 1933
  • Book of Tea 茶经, Lu Yu 陆羽, 8th century
  • China Food 中国食品, 1978-
  • Chongqing Famous Recipes 重庆名菜, 1966
  • Cooking for Commune Canteens 公共食堂烹饪, 1959
  • Cooking for the Masses 大众菜谱, 1973
  • Dietetic Pharmacopeia 食疗本草, Meng Shen 孟诜, 8th century
  • Dream of Splendor in the Eastern Capital 東京夢華錄, Meng Yuanlao 孟元老, 12th century
  • Essential Techniques for the Common People 齐民要术, Jia Sixie 贾思勰, 6th century
  • Family Cookbook 家庭菜谱, 1956
  • Flavouring the Pot 调鼎集, late 18th or mid-19th century
  • Food and Drink of the Cloud Forest Hall 云林堂饮食制度集, Ni Zan 倪瓒, 14th century
  • Foreign Pharmacopoeia 还要本草, Li Xun 李珣, 10 th century
  • Garden of Enlightenment 醒园录, Li Huanan 李化楠, 18th century
  • Practical Collection of Vital Home Skills 居家必用事类全集, Yuan dynasty
  • Mr Song’s Book of Longevity 宋氏养生部, Song Xu 宋诩, early 17th century  
  • Mrs Wu’s Records from the Kitchen 宋浦江吳氏中饋錄, Song dynasty. (Not to be confused with other books also called Records from the Kitchen 中饋錄. These are from the late Qing.)
  • Pleasure Boats of Yangzhou扬州画舫录, Li Dou 李斗, late 18th – early 19th century
  • Principles of Eating and Drinking 饮膳正要, Hu Si 忽思, 14th century
  • Recipes from the Garden of Contentment 随园食单, Yuan Mei 袁枚 late 18th century 
  • Secrets of the Table 食宪鸿秘, Zhu Yizun 朱彝尊 late 17th-early 18th century
  • Secrets of Western Cooking 西餐烹饪秘诀, 1925
  • Sichuan cuisine 四川菜谱 1977
  • Statute of the Court of Imperial Entertainments 光禄寺则例, 1839
  • Thoughts on a Vegetarian Diet 素食说略 Xue Baochen 薛宝辰, late 19th-early 20th century
  • Yi Ya’s Recorded Thoughts易牙遗意 , Han Yi 韩奕 14th century

English-language reference

These are some of the classic books on the history and culture of food in China. The older books should all be available in any reasonably large library.


  • Anderson, Eugene, The Food of China (New Haven, 1988). The classic. 
  • Chang, Kwang-chih, Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives (New Haven, 1977)
  • Höllmann, Thomas O., 2014. The Land of the Five Flavours: A Cultural History of Chinese Cuisine (New York: Columbia University Press, 2019)
  • Lin, Hsiang Ju, Slippery Noodles: A Culinary History of China (London, 2015)


  • Bray, Francesca, Science and Civilisation in China, Volume 6, part II: Agriculture (Cambridge, 1984)
  • Huang, H. T., Science and Civilisation in China, Volume 6, part V: Fermentations and Food Science (Cambridge, 2001)

Culture and politics

  • Feng, Jin, Tasting Paradise on Earth: Jiangnan Foodways (Seattle, 2019)
  • Swislocki, Marc, Culinary Nostalgia: Regional Food Culture and the Urban Experience in Shanghai (Stanford, 2009)
  • Sterckx, Roel, Of Tripod and Palate: Food Politics and Religion in Traditional China (New York, 2005)

Food in society

  • Oxfeld, Ellen, Bitter and Sweet: Food Meaning and Modernity in Rural China (Oakland, 2017)
  • Watson, James, Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia (Stanford, 2006). Especially Yunxiang Yan’s classic chapter on McDonald’s in Beijing.


  • Yuan, Mei, trans. Sean Jy-Shyang Chen, The Way of Eating: Yuan Mei’s Manual of Gastronomy (Great Barrington Massachusetts, 2019). This outstanding translation also has a companion volume devoted specifically to recipes.