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Fei Hsien Wang: No disclosure data submitted.
Since the second half of the nineteenth century, Western food—mostly British and French food—gradually acquired a place in the Chinese gastronomic world. As Western restaurants in treaty ports became trendy social space, imported canned foods and sodas were consumed as exotic luxury, many progressive intellectuals and social reformers regarded appreciating and practicing Western foodways a mean to modernize Chinese society. Cookbooks of Western food in Chinese published at the turn of the century were seen as a branch of “Western Learning,” and Western recipes appearing in women’s magazines and home economic manuals in the 1920s and 30s continued to reinforce the cultural values and benefit of Western food. While cultural historians have so far discussed the modernization discourses expressed in these texts, this paper shifts the focus to the largely unexamined substance of such culinary texts— the recipes themselves. Analyzing the recipes for Western food in Chinese found in Qing literati jottings (biji), cookbooks compiled by late Qing missionaries and treaty-port publishers, as well as recipes collections in early Republican print media, it traces the changing formulation of these recipes and explores seemingly practical but foreign knowledge was un/transmitted via formulaic texts: how did the authors of these recipes instruct their readers who might never have Western food before to prepare and cook Western food? How were the unfamiliar Western cooking technique and ingredients explained? What kind of appropriations and modifications were made to accommodate the Chinese kitchen and taste?