Shared Taste Events
28 Nov 2016: Symposium: Global Food History, joint collaboration of Leiden and Warwick. Venue: Leiden University

29 Nov 2016: Symposium: Chinese export paintings: studies and interpretations. At Volkenkunde Leiden, with support of Hulsewe-Wazniewski Foundation

29 Aug- 4 Sept 2016: IEHCA summer university in Tours, France, participating in the 2016 Summer University on Food and Drink Studies

FULLY BOOKED 22 April 2016: Lecture Françoise Sabban "The disputed issue of the origin of noodles", Sieboldhuis Leiden

9 November 2015: Asia in Amsterdam Symposium, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

1 May 2015: Dr. Ines Prodöhl (German Historical Institute, Washington DC), ''High diplomacy and a humble bean', University of Leiden

March 2015: 'ideas lunch', to share and exchange ideas on Asia foodways and food culture, Leiden

13 Feb 2015: ''De vroege wereldreizen van een theekopje''. [In Dutch] At Princessehof Leeuwarden, accompanying the exhibition 'Time for Tea'

12 Dec 2014: Inaugural lecture of 'Kikkoman Chair' professor Anne Gerritsen, Academiegebouw, Leiden University, 16:00 hrs

19 Sep 2014: Launch of website 'Shared Taste' and announcement of 'Shared Taste Lecture Series'. Venue: cafe 'Grote Beer', Rembrandtstraat, Leiden, 17:00 - 18:30 hrs.

The global lives of food and material culture

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…)

Symposium: Global Food History

Foreigners from the Five Nations Enjoying a Banquet

“Foreigners from the Five Nations Enjoying a Banquet”, Utagawa Yoshikazu, 1861

Of all the subjects that global historians study, food is one of the most global. Without food, life is not sustainable, and this is true for humans, animals and plants, now as much as it was in the past. Yet the study of food history is by no means always studied in global context; often, the emphasis is on national or regional perspectives. This symposium focuses on the study of food across cultural, political and dietary boundaries.

At the joint Symposium on Global Food History by Leiden University and the Global History and Culture Center of Warwick University, global food historians and Asian food scholars will discuss how food and the global fit together as subjects of research. Various aspects, methods and ingredients will be explored, as well as the cultural and political implications of food and diet in several regions.

Symposium: Global Food History: Methodologies
Date: Monday November 28 2016, 13:45 – 18:00 hours
Venue: Leiden University, Verbarium room, Matthias de Vrieshof 4
After the lecture there will be drinks.
*  You are most welcome to attend after registration, through register @


The Buddha’s hand at Chenonceau

chenonceau-2It is a citrus fruit like no other: a thick, shiny skin in shades of green and yellow, with numerous elongated shapes pointing downwards, not unlike fingers with long, pointy nails. From its appearance alone, it is not difficult to imagine why it this citrus fruit is known as Buddha’s Hand Fruit (foshougan 佛手柑).

Foushougan, also known as busshukan in Japanese (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis, or the fingered citron) is relatively rare in Europe. The photo to the left was taken by Nicholas Tomlan, Botanical Director at Chenonceau, one of the finest French chateaux along the Loire. (more…)

Shared Taste & IEHCA

The beautiful French city of Tours, located in the Loire Valley in central France, hosts an institute solely dedicated to the study of food. This European Institute for the History and Culture of Food (IEHCA) has an excellent library, hosts cultural events and activities around the protection of food and drink heritage, supports publications in the field, and organises an annual conference on the history of food. Moreover, for the last fourteen years it has hosted a Summer University: a week of intense study dedicated to the cultures and histories of food and drink.

For the first time this year, the Shared Taste project collaborated with the IEHCA Summer University. Anne Gerritsen offered one of the five expert presentations, Alice de Jong was one of the participants, and two students were the beneficiaries of a Shared Taste bursary. This is the first of three Shared Taste blog posts that were inspired by the IEHCA Summer University of 2016.



Reading Historic Cookbooks

Gibson House Museum, Boston: kitchen equipmentIn 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

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…)

Summer University in Tours: bursaries

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 curious thing about rhubarb

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…)

Lecture: the disputed issue of the origin of noodles

Dough kneading: mural from Zhao Dejun tomb
‘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…)

Why this project?

Why 'Shared Taste'? There is so much to know on Asia, Europe and the role of food between us! We would like to start exploring texts, tastes and textures on this tentalizing subject, not only in the present day cultures, but also in the history of food, foodways and commodities.

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