Shared Taste
Shared Taste Events
28-30 June 2018: Conference: Shared Taste: food and exchange in Asia and Europe, keynote Françoise Sabban


25-29 Sept 2017: Summer School: Asian Food: History, Anthropology, Sociology, hosted by IIAS, LeidenAsiaCentre and Shared Taste

11 April 2017: Symposium: Global Jars, with Anna Grasskamp. Venue: Leiden University

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.

Babi Ketjap

babi ketjapLet’s have a look at this text, a recipe from Kokki Bitja, Indonesia’s earliest printed cookbook.

Published in Batavia in the mid- 19th century, it is a collection of short Indonesian, Chinese and even Dutch recipes, written in hybrid Malay mixed with Dutch words – as can be seen from recipe names like Kwe Tulband, Pastij Oedang, or Stoof Ayam.

The cookbook was very popular and was reprinted at least nineteen times, well into the 1940s. The title Kokki Bitja, ‘Beloved Cook’, refers to the author, a certain ‘Nonna’ (miss) Cornelia, living at the ‘Tiada-Katahoewan‘ estate. We know very little about her, only that she suddenly passes away in 1859 only days before publication of the reprint, after a nervous fit in the kitchen while failing her ‘Kwee Broeder‘ cake, as the publishers tell us in their ‘Heartbreaking Words by the Publishers’ of the 5th edition. (more…)

‘The whole world is into tea’

ChigusaToday, March 20, 2015, Anne Gerritsen is featured in het Leidsch Dagblad, De hele wereld drinkt thee, in an interview by Wilfred Simons.

[in Dutch]

Thee – dat is een moment voor jezelf of voor elkaar. Wie thee drinkt, doet dat niet alleen om zijn dorst te lessen. Theedrinken is een ritueel of, zoals Anne Gerritsen zegt, ‘een moment van afscheiding’. Wie thee drinkt, gunt zichzelf rust, al is het maar voor even. De relatie tussen thee en ritueel heeft altijd bestaan.

Uitvinding van Boeddhistische monniken verspreid over alle landen en culturen

Anne Gerritsen is één dag per week verbonden aan de Universiteit Leiden als Kikkoman hoogleraar op het gebied van de uitwisselingen tussen Azië en Europa, met speciale aandacht voor de materiële cultuur. Daarnaast is ze docent aan de opleiding geschiedenis van de Universiteit van Warwick in Engeland. Het leven tussen twee culturen ‘bevalt haar’, zegt ze. Een keerzijde is wel dat ze veel in vliegtuigen zit. (more…)

Soya sauce on Mount Fuji?

Mount Fuji

Gallery 203 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is part of the Asian Art Department, and is devoted to Chinese ceramics. In particular, the porcelains presented here reveal ‘the interchanges between Chinese ceramics and those in other parts of the world’ [1]. One of the selected items is this small dish (25.1 cm wide, and 28.5 cm long).

Dish in the shape of Mount Fuji with a design of horses and deer, Ming dynasty ca. 1620–30. Metropolitan Museum (Purchase, Barbara and William Karatz Gift, Gift of C. T. Loo and Company, by exchange and Rogers Fund, by exchange, 2010 (2010.206)

It is made from porcelain, using the characteristic white clay found near the southern Chinese kiln town of Jingdezhen. It has been decorated with blue designs, brushed onto the clay surface before the object was glazed and then fired at high temperature. During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), hundreds of thousands of such so-called ‘blue-and-white’ porcelains were produced in Jingdezhen, so that in itself does not explain the choice of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to select it for display in Gallery 203. The shape, however, does explain the choice. The shallow dish (5.3 cm in height) is wide on one side and narrow on the other, with rounded edges on either side of the design in the middle. Instead of laying the dish flat, one could stand it up on its wider side, with the narrow shape at the top, to reveal a shape not unlike that of the famous Mount Fuji in Japan. (more…)

‘A viscous savoury juice’

In the second half of the eighteenth century, the botanist Martinus (Martin) Houttuyn described Japanese soy as follows: ‘een Lijmerig en niet onaangenaam ziltig Sap, dat in Flesschen overkomt, en, in plaats van Vleesch-Sap of Sjeu, over Erwten en andere Spyzen gegeten wordt om den Appetyt te verwekken’ (1). Roughly translated into English, the statement reads: ‘Japanese soya is a viscous and not unpleasantly savoury juice, which arrives in bottles, and is consumed instead of meat-juice or gravy with pulses and other dishes, to raise one’s appetite’.

The passage was included in the section on herbs (kruiden) in a multi-volume study entitled ‘Natural history’ or ‘Extensive description of the animals, plants and minerals, according to the system of Linnaeus’ (Natuurlyke Historie of uitvoerige beschryving der dieren, planten en mineraalen, volgens het samenstel van Linnaeus). (more…)

Stir-fry : a history

In our modern life style it is perfectly normal to go to the supermarket for some meat and veg, slice them in bite-size pieces and then X these in a wok or saute pan. When you think about what should come in the position of ‘X’, it is obvious we need a special verb here. We can’t use ‘roast’, ‘boil’, ‘fry’ or simply ‘cook’. These all do not sound right when using a wok. We need a special word to describe what we are doing when we are holding a spatula and preparing something in some hot oil in our woks, a verb which in Chinese is called ‘chao’ 炒.


The character for ‘chao’ shows the ‘fire’ radical on the left and then several strokes on the right, which at a closer look, could really resemble a hooked spatula with some edible chunks to either side, scraping the tilted bottom of a wok. And ‘chao’ing is actually that: scraping and stirring ingredients to cook evenly. (more…)

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…)

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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