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Distributed for Reaktion Books

China to Chinatown

Chinese Food in the West

Distributed for Reaktion Books

China to Chinatown

Chinese Food in the West

China to Chinatown tells the story of one of the most notable examples of the globalization of food: the spread of Chinese recipes, ingredients and cooking styles to the Western world. Beginning with the accounts of Marco Polo and Franciscan missionaries, J.A.G. Roberts describes how Westerners’ first impressions of Chinese food were decidedly mixed, with many regarding Chinese eating habits as repugnant. Chinese food was brought back to the West merely as a curiosity.

The Western encounter with a wider variety of Chinese cuisine dates from the first half of the 20th century, when Chinese food spread to the West with emigrant communities. The author shows how Chinese cooking has come to be regarded by some as among the world’s most sophisticated cuisines, and yet is harshly criticized by others, for example on the grounds that its preparation involves cruelty to animals.

Roberts discusses the extent to which Chinese food, as a facet of Chinese culture overseas, has remained differentiated, and questions whether its ethnic identity is dissolving.

Written in a lively style, the book will appeal to food historians and specialists in Chinese culture, as well as to readers interested in Chinese cuisine.

Distribution by the University of Chicago Press only to customers in the USA and Canada. Customers elsewhere should visit the UK website of Reaktion Books.

256 pages | 5.5 x 9.25


Culture Studies

Political Science: Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and International Relations

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"The book is a valuable and timely account of the West’s strange love-hate relationship with Chinese food, and a stimulating read, provoking as it does so many challenging questions about how we perceive and adapt to other cultures."

The Times

"Informative and readable."

The Independent

"The style and presentation, as well as the topic, make this a very good addition to the literature on the history of food. Recommended."


Table of Contents

1. Chinese Food
2. The Western Discovery of Chinese Food
3. Nineteenth-century Reactions to Chinese Food
4. 1900-49: Western Impressions of Chinese Food in China
5. Westerners and Food in Communist China
6. The Globalization of Chinese Food-the Early Stages
7. The Globalization of Chinese Food since 1945
8. On the Globalization of Chinese Food
Selected Further Reading

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