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AsiaYear exhibition

soy-sauce-bottlesLast Thursday, January 26, was the opening of the library Asia exhibition ‘A Buddha in the Backyard’, the kickoff to Leiden’s Asia Year 2017 – a joint programme by Leiden University Libraries, several Leiden museums and the city council to celebrate the merging of all of Leiden University’s Asian collections into a new ‘Asian Library’ at the existing UB Main Library at the Witte Singel. (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…)