New Zealand Food History

the Aristologist

Duncan Galletly is based in Napier, New Zealand. He has collected New Zealand's early cookbooks for over 35 years, publishes the Aristologist, and has convened or spoken at many Food History meetings in New Zealand and Australia. His papers and presentations include research into recipe entropy and diversity, etymology of cakes and biscuits, iconism, tantric lessons from an Afghan, tomato sauce, cider, cookbook bindings and illustration, Brillat-Savarin, the early cookbooks and their authors and, most recently, the portrayal of Chinese restaurants in New Zealand newspapers.

Duncan has a specialist interest in New Zealand's oldest cookery books - the 800 or more published prior to 1950. These early cookbooks were never intended for longevity. The earliest were cheaply and often badly bound, before being subjected to the merciless trauma of the 19th century kitchen environment - temperature, grime, mishandling and food stains. In poor condition, they were usually thrown away. For those reasons most of these early ccokbooks did not survive, and those that did are usually "battered", heavily soiled, the covers are missing, and perhaps only a few pages remain. But these may be the last fragments still in existence, incredibly rare but still capable of telling an important story about our earliest culinary ventures.

If you have what seems to be a very old New Zealand cookery book, no matter what its condition, we may be able to identify it even if it is in pieces. We may also be interested in purchase, and would be happy to advise on rarity.

For subscriptions, book purchases, written contributions to the Aristologist, or queries about old New Zealand cookery books, please email