List of sources of Chinese culinary history

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This is a list of historical Chinese sources referring to Chinese cuisine. Not long after the expansion of the Chinese Empire during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC–207 BC) and Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD), Chinese writers noted the great differences in culinary practices among people from different parts of the realm. These differences followed to a great extent the varying climate and availability of foodstuffs in China.

Pre-Han Dynasty[edit]

Documents compiled before 206 BC.

Title Chinese name Date Author Description
Zhouli zhushu
Notes and Commentaries on the Rites of Zhou
Government officials An annotated version of Rites of Zhou[1]
Yili zhushu
Ceremonies and Rites with Commentaries[2]
Liji zhengyi
Book of Rites[3]
Classic of Rites, 8 different delicacies and others are mentioned
Lüshi Chunqiu
Mister Lü's Spring and Autumn [Annals]
c. 239 BCE during the Qin Dynasty Under the patronage of Lü Buwei. An encyclopedic Chinese classic text compilation (本味篇)
Simin yueling jiaozhu 四民月令 Food related topics are partially mentioned in the book

Pre-Sui states[edit]

Documents before Sui Dynasty (581–618)

Title Chinese name Date Author Description
Classic of Poetry
As early as 1000 BC 北魏•卢氏 著 食经
Nanfang caomu zhuang 南方草木狀
published in 304 Western Jin dynasty scholar and botanist Ji Han 嵇含 Chinese subtropical Flora
Qinjing 禽經
Shizhen lu 食珍錄
Qimin yaoshu
Essential Methods of the Common People[4]
C.E. 533 and 544. Northern Wei Dynasty official Jia Sixie Ancient Chinese agricultural texts[5][6][7] (卷1-7部分)

Sui Dynasty[edit]

Documents compiled during the Sui Dynasty (581–618).

Title Chinese name Date Author Description
Shijing 食经 隋•谢讽 著
Beitang shuchao
Excerpts of Books in the Northern Hall[8]
Yu Shinan, an officer and calligrapher Тhe oldest surviving leishu among existing ones, which is a kind of reference book or encyclopedia in China.[9] Includes a chapter covering beverages and foods (酒食部).

Tang Dynasty[edit]

Documents complied during the Tang Dynasty (618–907)

Title Chinese name Date Author Description
Yiwen Leiju
Encyclopedia of Arts and Letters
Ouyang Xun, a calligrapher А poetic encyclopedia[10][11] (卷72食物部其它)
Beiji Qianjin yaofang
The Precious Formulas Worth a Thousand Gold
Sun Simiao known as King of Medicine Along with Qian Jin Yi Fang ("Supplement to the Formulas of a Thousand Gold Worth"), both significantly contribute to the development of Chinese medicine.[12](卷26食治)
Recipe Manuals
a generic term to refer to recipe books during the Tang Dynasty.[13]
Shiliao bencao
Materia Medica for Successful Dietary Therapy[14]
684[15] or
701- 104 and 721- 739[16]
Meng Shen and Zhang Ding[17] The earliest complete dietary work. Based on Meng Shen's book Buyang fang (Prescription to Replenish and Nourish), Zhang Ding expanded it and renamed it as such.[16] (1卷残)
The Classic of Tea
written between 760 to 780 Lu Yu The very first monograph on tea in the world that records Chinese methods of tea cultivation and preparation.[18][19]
Jiancha shuiji
Note on Brewing Tea[20]
Zhang Youxin (張又新), a tea expert Discusses the way of tea brewing and suggests a trend towards more study of tea.[21][22]
Shiyi xinjian
A Revised Mirror for the Dietitian
published in 850 Unknown Food therapy[23][24]
Youyang zazu
Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang
published approximately in 853 Duan Chengshi A miscellany of Chinese and foreign legends and hearsay, reports on natural phenomena, short anecdotes, and tales of the wondrous and mundane, as well as notes on such topics as medicinal herbs and tattoos. (酒食)
Lingbiao lu yiji
Strange Southern Ways of Men and Things
written between 889 and 904 Liu Xun (劉恂) [25][26](部分)
Shanfujing shoulu
The Manuscript of the Diet Minister's Classic
856 Yang Yezhuan Introduces many formulae for diet therapy[27]
Chef's Manuals
Southern Sung Zheng Wang (鄭望) Anecdotes[28]

Song Dynasty[edit]

Documents complied during the Song Dynasty (960–1279)

The population of China doubled in size during the 10th and 11th centuries. This growth came through expanded rice cultivation in central and southern China, the use of early-ripening rice from southeast and southern Asia, and the production of abundant food surpluses.[29][30]

Title Chinese name Date Author Description
Shipu 食譜
Records of the Unworldly and the Strange
950 [31]
Taiping yulan
Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era
977 to 983 Li Fang An encyclopedia(卷843-867饮食)
Treatise on Bamboo Shoots
circa. 970 Zang Ning, a monk 98 kinds of bamboo[32]
Benxinzhai shushipu
Vegetarian Recipes from the Study of the True Heart[33]
13th century Chen Dasou (陳達叟) Cookery
Shanjia qinggong
The Simple Foods of the Mountain Folk[34]
13th century Lin Hong (林洪), Zhao Xigu a connoisseur The book introduces food and beverages of hermits in the mountains[35] and usages of sugar in cookery[36] It also mentions a proverb related to pasta[37]
Rucao jishi 茹草记事 Published in 1646 Lin Hong, Tao Zongyi, Tao Ting [38]
Shidafu shishi wuguan
Five Considerations When scholar officials eat*
between 1045–1105 Huang Tingjian, a calligrapher Deals with five points of etiquette when shidafu (gentlemen or officials) eat meat.[39][40]
Shouqin yanglao xinshu
A New Book of Supporting Parents for Longevity[41]
Zou Xuan [42][43]
Beishan jiujing
The Wine Classic of North Mountain
between 1535–1615 Zhu Hong The first book extant entirely focused on wine and wine making[44][45]
Yushipi 玉食批
The Record of Tea
Cai Xiang A renowned tea book[46]
Lizhi pu
Note of Litchi
1059 Cai Xiang The first monograph on any fruit tree written by a Chinese writer, in which over 30 varieties of fruit are mentioned along with Litchi.[47][48]
Dongxi shichalu 東溪試茶錄
Pincha yaolu 品茶要錄
Jiupu 酒譜
Julu 橘錄
Tangshuang pu 糖霜譜
Xuanhe beiyuan gongcha lu 宣和北苑貢茶錄
Beizuan bielu 北苑別錄
Note of Crab
written about 1059 crabs[49]
Xielüe 蟹略
Junpu 菌譜
Dongjing Meng Hua Lu 東京夢華錄箋注
孟元老,Meng Yuanlao fl.1126-1147 Journal of daily life in Kaifeng
Ducheng jisheng 都城紀勝
Wulin jiu shi 武林舊事
Nan Song shisi ji 南宋市肆记
Mengliang lu 夢粱錄
Zhongkuilu 中饋錄
Fanshenglu or ''Xihulaoren fanshenglu 繁胜录 or 西湖老人繁勝錄 (部分)

Jin Dynasty[edit]

Documents complied during the Jin dynasty (1115–1234)

Title Chinese name Date Author Description
Shiwu bencao 食物本草 Li Gao (李杲), a major medical scholar of the time[50]

Yuan Dynasty[edit]

During the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368), contacts with the West also brought the introduction to China of a major food crop, sorghum, along with other foreign food products and methods of preparation.

Title Chinese name Date Author Description
Agricultural Treatise
1149 Chen Fu Deals with paddy rice farming and sericulture in southern China.[51]
Riyong bencao
Materia Medica for Daily Use[52]
日用本草 1367[53] Wu Rui, an official medical authority One of famous works on dietetics written in the Yuan Dynasty.[54] It lists of 540 common foods with medicinal properties.[53]
Yinshan zhengyao
Orthodox Essentials of Dietetics
Hu Sihui, an imperial dietary physician The book that defines essential diets for a healthy person is regarded as the first systematic document on nutritional principles in China.[50][55]
Nongsang yishi cuoyao
Fundamentals of Agriculture and Sericulture for Food and Clothes
1314 Lu Mingshan[56] sugarcane and sugar manufacturing[57]
Yinshi xuzhi
Must Know for Diet
Jia Ming One of the famous works on dietetics written in the Yuan Dynasty.[50]
Yunlin tang yinshi zhidu ji
The Food and Drink System of Yunlin[58][59]
Ni Zan, a famous painter The book with various recipes on ordinary foods is said to be the first book of China actually aimed for ordinary household[60][61]
Jujia biyong shilei quanji
Collection of Necessary Matters Ordered for the Householder[62]
1301 An encyclopedia that became a precursor to encyclopedias of the late Ming, and has a chapter devoted to "foods of the Muslims."[63][64] (gengji 庚集, jiji 己集)
Zhuanshi 饌史

Ming Dynasty[edit]

China during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) became involved in a new global trade of goods, plants, animals, and food crops known as the Columbian Exchange. Although the bulk of imports to China were silver, the Chinese also purchased New World crops from the Spanish Empire. This included sweet potatoes, maize, and peanuts, foods that could be cultivated in lands where traditional Chinese staple crops—wheat, millet, and rice—couldn't grow, hence facilitating a rise in the population of China.[65][66] In the Song Dynasty (960–1279), rice had become the major staple crop of the poor;[67] after sweet potatoes were introduced to China around 1560, it gradually became the traditional food of the lower classes.[68]

Title Chinese name Date Author Description
Yiya yiyi 易牙遗意
Tian chu ju zhen miao zhuan ji 天厨聚珍妙馔集
Shenyin or

Quxian shenyin shu

Jiuhuang Bencao
Materia Medica for the Relief of Famine
救荒本草 Zhu Su The book newly mentions most of the edible plants [69]
Shijian bencao
Food Guide for Materia Medica
Ning Yuan It greatly contributed to the development of medical foods.[69]
Bianmin tu zuan 便民图纂 (卷15食品及其它)
Yecai pu 野菜谱
Songshi yangsheng bu 宋氏养生部
Yunlin yishi 云林遗事
Shiwu bencao
Food Materia Medica
食物本草 Wang Ying It greatly contributed to the development of medical foods.[69]
Shipin ji 食品集
Guang junpu 广菌谱
Bencao gangmu
The Compendium of Materia Medica
本草纲目 1578–1608 Li Shizhen А total of 1892 medical materials are addressed in the book, and food items take significant portion of them.[69]
Mo E xiao lu 墨娥小录 (饮膳集珍及其它)
Duo neng bi shi 多能鄙事 (卷1-4饮食)
Rucao ben 茹草编
Jujia bibei 居家必备 (卷7饮馔)
Zunsheng bajian 遵生八笺 (饮馔服食笺)
Yesupin 野蔌品
Haiwei suoyin 海味索引
Minzhong haicuoshu 闽中海错疏
Yecai jian 野菜笺 83、食鉴本草
Shantang sikao 山堂肆考 (羽集衣食部)
Yecai bolu 野菜博录
Shangyi bencao 上医本草
Hangzheng 觞政
Nongzheng quanshu 农政全书
Yangyu yueling 养余月令
Jiushi 酒史

Qing Dynasty[edit]

Documents complied during the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912)

Title Chinese name Date Author Description
Xianqing ouji 闲情偶寄 (饮馔部颐养部)
Min xiao ji 闽小记
Yinshi xuzhi
Necessary Information on Diet
饮食须知 Zhu Benzhong[70] Zhu Tailai 朱泰来)
Tiaodingji 调鼎集
Shiwu bencao huizuan 食物本草会纂
Jiangnan yuxianpin 江南鱼鲜品
Gui'eryue 簋贰约
Riyong suzi 日用俗字 (饮食章菜蔬章)
Shixian hongmi 食宪鸿秘
Fan you shi’er heshuo 饭有十二合说
Yuanjian leihan 渊鉴类函 (食物及其它)
Juchang yinzhuan lu 居常饮馔录
Gujin tushu jicheng 古今图书集成 (经济汇编食物典卷257~308饮食部)
Xu chajing 续茶经
Gezhi jingyuan 格致镜原 (卷6饮食类)
Nongpu bianlan 农圃便览 (部分)
Xingyuan lu 醒园录
Zhoupu shuo 粥谱说
Yangsheng suibi 养生随笔
Suiyuan shidan 隨園食單 / 随园食单 1792 Yuan Mei
Wu xun pu 吴蕈谱
Yinshi xuzhi 饮食须知 (清•朱本中)
Jihai pu 记海错
Zhengsuwen 证俗文 (卷1 及其它)
Xilüe 醯略
Yangxiaolu 养小录
Yangzhou huafang lu 扬州画舫录 (部分)
Tiaoji yinshi bian 调疾饮食辨 (6卷、卷末1卷)
Qing jia lu 清嘉录 (部分)
Tongqiao yizhao lu 桐桥倚棹录 (卷10市廛)
Suixiju yinshipu 随息居饮食谱
Yinengpian 艺能篇 (治庖)
Zhongkui lu 中馈录 (清•彭崧毓)
Huya 湖雅 (卷8酿造、铒饼)
Zhongkui lu 中馈录 (清•曾懿)
Guang Zhoupu
Xinbian jiazhengxue 新编家政学 (第四编第三章饮食)
Chengdu tonglan 成都通览 (卷7饮食类)

Post-Qing period[edit]

Documents compiled after the Qing Dynasty

Title Chinese name Date Author Description
Zaoyangfan shu 造洋饭书
Shipin jiawei beilan 食品佳味备览
Qingbai leichao 清稗类钞 (第47、48册饮食类)
Pengren yiban 烹饪一斑
Jiating shipu 家庭食谱
Xican pengren mijue 西餐烹饪秘诀
Jiating shipu xubian 家庭食谱续编
Jiating shipu sanbian 家庭食谱三编
Jiating shipu sibian 家庭食谱四编
Sushi pu 素食谱
Jiashi shixi baojian 家事实习宝鉴 (第二编饮食论)
Zhijia quanshu 治家全书 (卷10烹饪篇食谱)
Jiating wanbao quanshu 家庭万宝全书 (卷5烹饪学)
Sushi shenglun 素食养生论
Shanghai kuailan 上海快览 (第6篇上海之饮食)
Shiwu xin bencao 食物新本草
Qinan kuailan 济南快览 (衣食、中西餐馆)
Beiping caipu 北平菜谱
Minzhong changshi congshu 民众常识丛书 烹饪类
Jinan daguan 济南大观 (第96章中西餐)
Taomu pengrenfa 陶母烹饪法
Yinshi yu jiankang 饮食与健康
Beiping fengsu leizheng 北平风俗类征 (饮食)
Feishi shiyang sanzhong 费氏食养三种
Shiyong yinshixue 实用饮食学
Xin shipu 新食谱 (第二册普通食物成分表)
Sushi shuolü 素食说略
Chifan wenti 吃饭问题


  1. ^
  2. ^ Anne D. Birdwhistell (1996), Li Yong (1627-1705) and epistemological dimensions of Confucian philosophy Stanford University Press, p. 208 ISBN 0-8047-2605-1
  3. ^ Karl-Heinz Pohl, Chinese thought in a global context
  4. ^ Alternative translations are "Important Arts for the People's Welfare", "The Manual of Important Arts for the People", "Essential Techniques of Keeping Order among the Common People", "The Art of Feeding the People", "Important Technology for the People's Welfare" or "Essential Farming Skills of the People of Qi"
  5. ^ Needham, 1995, p. 189
  6. ^ Mark Edward Lewis, 2009 China Between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties Harvard University Press p. 116 ISBN 0-674-02605-5
  7. ^ Wenhua Li, 2001 Agro-Ecological Farming Systems in China Taylor & Francis, p. 26 -27 ISBN 92-3-103784-6
  8. ^ Joseph Needham, Donald B. Wagner, Ling Wang (2008) Science and Civilisation in China Cambridge University Press, p. 372 ISBN 0-521-87566-8
  9. ^ 북당서초 北堂書鈔 (in Korean). Doosan Encyclopedia. 
  10. ^ Kendall H. Brown, The politics of reclusion p.25
  11. ^ Scott Pearce, Audrey G. Spiro, Patricia Buckley, Culture and power in the reconstitution of the Chinese realm, 200-600 p.58
  12. ^ Joseph P. Hou, Youyu Jin The healing power of Chinese herbs and medicinal recipes p.39
  13. ^ Wilkinson, 2002, p.649
  14. ^ Alternative translations are "Pharmacopoeia of Foods for Treating Illness", "Nutritional Therapy; a Pharmacopoeia of Natural History" or "Health Food and Curative Herbs"
  15. ^ Shiu-ying Hu (2005)Food plants of China Chinese University Press, ISBN 962-996-229-2
  16. ^ a b Elisabeth Hsu Innovation in Chinese medicine p. 184 - 187
  17. ^ Peng Yoke Ho, F. Peter Lisowski Concepts of Chinese science and traditional healing arts p.35
  18. ^ Anthony F. Chiffolo, Rayner W. Hesse (2006 ) Cooking with the Bible: biblical food, feasts, and lore Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 339 ISBN 0-313-33410-2
  19. ^ Dingbo Wu, Patrick D. Murphy (1994) Handbook of Chinese popular culture Greenwood Publishing Group p. 74 ISBN 0-313-27808-3
  20. ^ An alternative translation is "Record of Waters for Boiing Tea"
  21. ^ Ling Wang (2005), Tea and Chinese culture Long River Press, p. 43 - 44 ISBN 1-59265-025-2
  22. ^ Gleaming Qing Ming--Exhibition of China Tea Culture Literature Tea Cultural Museum of Macao
  23. ^ Peiwen Li, Li Peiwen (2003) Management of Cancer with Chinese Medicine Donica Publishing Limited, p. 353 ISBN 1-901149-04-8
  24. ^ 식의심감 食醫心鑑 (in Korean). Doosan Encyclopedia. 
  25. ^ August Johan Bernet Kempers The kettledrums of Southeast Asia p. 179
  26. ^ Joseph Needham, Colin A. Ronan The Shorter Science and Civilisation in China p. 251
  27. ^ Losso, 2007 p. 102
  28. ^ Joseph Needham, Ling Wang Science and Civilisation in China p. 127
  29. ^ Ebrey et al. 1999, p. 156
  30. ^ Brook, 1998, p. 96
  31. ^ Joseph Needham, Colin A. Ronan (1995) The Shorter Science and Civilisation in China Cambridge University Press, p. 76 ISBN 0-521-46773-X
  32. ^ Peter Valder, 1999 The Garden Plants of China, Timber Press p. 90 ISBN 0-88192-470-9
  33. ^ (French) Association française d'études chinoises (1997) Etudes chinoises L'Association, p. 10
  34. ^ Alternative translations are "Pure Dinner at a Mountain House", "Pure Dinner at a Mountain House" or "The Simple life of a Mountain Dweller".
  35. ^ Daria Berg, Daria Berg: Chl, Chloë Starr, 2008 The Quest for Gentility in China Routledge, pp. 181-182 ISBN 0-415-43586-2
  36. ^ Mazumdar, p. 29
  37. ^ Silvano Serventi, Françoise Sabban, Antony Shugaar, 2002 Pasta Columbia University Press p. 319 ISBN 0-231-12442-2
  38. ^ Hong Lin, Zongyi Tao, Ting Tao Ru cao ji shi
  39. ^ Huang, Tingjian, 1045-1105 City University of Hong Kong
  40. ^ (Korean) Prof. Jo Mun-su (조문수교수) 궁중음식 Jeju University
  41. ^ An alternative translation is "New Writings on Fostering the Longevity and Nourishing the Old Age of One's Parents"
  42. ^ 李治安 (Chinese) 2005 元史论丛/第十辑/元代社会文化暨元世祖忽必烈国际学术研讨会论文集 p. 407
  43. ^ Fabrizio Pregadio The encyclopedia of Taoism 中国广播电视出版社 p. 269 ISBN 7-5043-4546-6
  44. ^ Catharina Yung-Kang Wang Ang, KeShun Liu, Yao-Wen Huang 1999 Asian foods: science & technology CRC Press, p. 389 ISBN 1-56676-736-9
  45. ^ Bob Flaws 1994 Chinese Medicinal Wines & Elixirs Blue Poppy Enterprises, Inc., p. 15 ISBN 0-936185-58-9
  46. ^ Kit Boey Chow, Ione Kramer, 1990 All the tea in China China Books, p. 8 ISBN 0-8351-2194-1
  47. ^ Peter Valder, 1999 The Garden Plants of China Timber Press p. 301 ISBN 0-88192-470-9
  48. ^ International Conference on the History of Science in East Asia, Alan Kam-leung Chan, Gregory K. Clancey, Hui-Chieh Loy, 2001 Historical perspectives on East Asian science, technology, and medicine World Scientific p. 173 ISBN 9971-69-259-7
  49. ^ International Conference on the History of Science in East Asia, Alan Kam-leung Chan, Gregory K. Clancey, Hui-Chieh Loy, 2001 Historical perspectives on East Asian science, technology, and medicine World Scientificp. 173 ISBN 9971-69-259-7
  50. ^ a b c Losso, 2007, p. 102
  51. ^ Wilkinson, 1998, p. 629
  52. ^ It can be translated into Materia Medica of Everyday Food Items
  53. ^ a b Heiner Fruehauf, (March 1998) The Gingko: Cultural Background and Medicinal Usage in China, The Journal of Chinese Medicine
  54. ^ Losso, 2007, p.102 - 103
  55. ^ Newman, 2004, p. 19-20
  56. ^ Gang Deng, 1999 Maritime sector, institutions, and sea power of premodern China, Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 260 ISBN 0-313-30712-1
  57. ^ Sucheta Mazumdar (1998), Sugar and society in China, Harvard Univ Asia Center, p. 134 ISBN 0-674-85408-X
  58. ^ Wilkinson, 2000, p.649
  59. ^ Alternative titles are "Cloud Forest Hall Collection of Rules for Drinking and Eating" or "Dietetic Systems of Yunlin"
  60. ^ Newman, 2004, p.20
  61. ^ Jacqueline M. Newman, Summer 2000 About: 14th Century eating/drinking rules and recipes; Book awards; Upcoming Chinese New Year
  62. ^ An alternative translation is "Complete Collection of Classified Affairs Essential for Those Living at Home"
  63. ^ March 2006 Beijing Halal China Heritage Project, The Australian National University, No. 5
  64. ^ Benjamin A. Elman On their own terms
  65. ^ Ebrey, Patricia Buckley (1999). The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-66991-X
  66. ^ Crosby, Alfred W., Jr. (2003). The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492; 30th Anniversary Edition. Westport: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0-275-98092-8.
  67. ^ Gernet, Jacques (1962). Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276. Translated by H. M. Wright. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0720-0, 136.
  68. ^ Crosby, Alfred W., Jr. (2003). The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492; 30th Anniversary Edition. Westport: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0-275-98092-8, 200.
  69. ^ a b c d Losso, 2007, p. 103
  70. ^ Cheng-Tsai Liu; Liu Zheng-cai; Ka Hua (1999). A Study of Daoist Acupuncture & Moxibustion. Blue Poppy Enterprises, Inc. p. 35. ISBN 1-891845-08-X. 


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