Shared Taste? The global lives of food and material culture, 1500 to the present
This multi-facetted research project explores the emergence and development of shared tastes as food and material culture were exchanged throughout the world between 1500 and the present. Food, material culture and social life are inextricably connected, in today’s world as much as in the remote past.
From 1500 onwards, those connections gained global dimensions: food and material culture began to be exchanged (more…)
In the beginning of June I had the great opportunity to participate in a seminar on historical cookbooks at the Schlesinger library at Harvard. The seminar, ‘Reading Historic Cookbooks: a Structured Approach’, was taught by 85-year old Barbara Ketcham Wheaton, food scholar and honorary curator of the library’s culinary collection.
Wheaton has dedicated her life to the analysis of thousands of cookbooks, and over the decades she put all the content found inside their recipes in her massive database called ‘the Cook’s Oracle’, which hopefully – after more conversion work and further programming – will become available online this summer or later this year.
We now are immersed in them, but cookbooks used to be much more rare. Increasingly available in digital collections to read, it is not easy to extract their meaning from them right away. One has to really dig into them to learn about the past. (more…)
Pasta’s global story: Françoise Sabban on the contested history of noodles. A lecture for Shared Taste at SieboldHuis, Leiden
In April 2016, we had the great pleasure of hosting the eminent French food historian Françoise Sabban. Professor Sabban is professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and member of the Centre for Modern and Contemporary China Studies. She is one of the foremost scholars of food history in Europe, and the most eminent historian of Chinese food history. It was a great honour for us to host her in Leiden; her presence was an inspiration, and her lecture was an overwhelming success. (more…)
photo credit: Flickr, Pug girl
EXTENDED DEADLINE: JUNE 29 Come join us at the Summer University on Food and Drink Studies in Tours, France, from 28 August to 4 September 2016. The summer school is organized for the 14th time by the François Rabelais University and the European Institute for the History and Cultures of Food (IEHCA).
For the first time this year, our ‘Shared Taste’ research project – together with the IEHCA – will offer a number of bursaries covering the full registration fee (400€), which covers (more…)
The most curious thing about this picture is not the tall plant with the big leaves in the middle, or the two pairs of men working in the field either side of the plant, not even the large white long-fingered shape in the lower right-hand corner of the image. Not even the title of the book, visible in the banner in the sky, Rabarbarologia Curiosa, is strange. The strangest thing about the image is, in fact, the architecture of the city in the right-hand background of the image:
A close look at the city reveals white-washed walls with small openings surrounding a city with several tall buildings, a round tower on the far left of the city walls, an entrance gate with what looks like battlements, (more…)
|‘Dough kneading’: mural from Zhao Dejun tomb, near Beijing (China, 10th century)|
Lecture: The disputed issue of the origin of noodles: a new comparative approach
Francoise Sabban / Friday April 22, 2016
In this ‘Shared Taste’ lecture, Professor Françoise Sabban (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris) will try to dig deeper into an issue that has puzzled food historians for some time: who invented the noodle first? Were the Italians first with their invention of pasta, or was it the Chinese, with their invention of noodles?
Evidence suggests that making noodles from wheat occurred earlier in Northern China than in the Mediterranean basin. But why is that the case, when wheat was the most significant cereal of the Mediterranean world? (more…)
At the Asia in Amsterdam symposium which was held at the start of the exhibition “Asia in Amsterdam” – which has moved from Amsterdam and will be on view in the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA (USA) from February 27, 2016- , the Shared Taste project delivered a paper presented by prof. Anne Gerritsen on early culinary exchange, entitled “Candied ginger and China root: Asian ingredients in the 17th century Dutch kitchen“.
To determine whether the arrival of Asian spices and other ‘exotic’ ingredients and condiments on VOC ships in the early 17th century indeed influenced foodways in the Netherlands, as is the general assumption, we decided to look for these (supposedly) unfamiliar ingredients in 16th and 17th century Dutch cookbooks, and track the changes over time.
‘With these two sticks, the Japanese are able to fill their mouths with marvelous swiftness and agility. They can pick up any piece of food, no matter how tiny it is, without ever soiling their hands’.
This is an observation made by Francesco Carletti, a Florentine merchant, who set out from Seville in the late sixteenth century, on what would become an eight-year journey across the world that included Japan. He was not the first European (more…)
Objects kept inside a museum, displayed in a beautiful or artful way, can only be looked at from a distance : the whole point is to keep precious and valuable objects safe from harm. Yet when one actually touches material culture, there is a spark of communication which leads towards to a whole new way of seeing things.