Whoever heard of Vegetable Offal?

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A recent attempt to grow carrot tops on the windowsill

Image credit: Sejal Sukhadwala

Sejal Sukhadwala introduces us to vegetable offal, Indian style

It’s because I’d enjoyed last year’s Symposium so much that I was disappointed to hear that the 2016 theme was ‘offal’. I won’t be able to come then, I said, I’m vegetarian so it’ll be of no use to me. But there’s vegetable offal: discarded bits of fruit and veg such as the peel, seeds and stems, said Bee Wilson, Diana Henry and about half a dozen others. Vegetable offal, I laughed. They’re just being polite, or it’s just a ruse to get more people to attend, I thought. Whoever heard of vegetable offal?
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Three symposiasts and their work

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Andrew Dalby introduces a new series featuring Symposiasts and their work

No other meeting is quite like the Oxford Food Symposium. It’s unique for the varied origins, backgrounds and skills of participants who come together from all over the world for three days in Oxford during which food cultures meet and specialisms interact.

This may, with luck, be the beginning of a series about individual symposiasts: what they do, what they write, what they bring to Oxford. In these three posts we introduce –

Sally Grainger, reconstruction archaeologist, recreator of Roman food and acknowledged expert on ancient fish sauce [continue reading]

Ken Albala, symposium trustee, food history academic, tireless teacher and writer on Renaissance banquets, beans and much else [continue reading]

Anthony Buccini, historical linguist, hunter of medieval Mediterranean meals, who carried off the Sophie Coe Prize with his first Symposium paper in 2005 [continue reading]

Symposiasts at Work: Sally Grainger

Andrew Dalby introduces Symposiast Sally Grainger

 Sally Grainger taking part in a reconstruction at Butser Ancient Farm near Petersfield, Hampshire.

Sally Grainger taking part in a reconstruction at Butser Ancient Farm near Petersfield, Hampshire.

Image credit: Sally Grainger

Sally Grainger began her career as a real hands-on pastry chef. With that background she has now become one of the better-known hands-on food historians. After a decade working as a chef she took up Classical Studies as an undergraduate at Royal Holloway College, and, while doing so, held her first reconstructed Roman banquet (a farewell to Professor Martin West, who was moving to All Souls’, Oxford). In 1996 she and Andrew Dalby wrote The Classical Cookbook, an enduring success, for British Museum Press. The recipes, as authentic as could possibly be achieved, were Sally’s.
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Symposiasts at Work: Anthony F. Buccini

Andrew Dalby introduces Symposiast Anthony F. Buccini

Anthony Buccini enjoying a glass of Old Rosie scrumpy at the Turf Tavern in Oxford.

Anthony Buccini enjoying a glass of Old Rosie scrumpy at the Turf Tavern in Oxford.

Image credit: Anthony Buccini

Anthony first attended the Symposium in 2005. Since then he has not missed a year. Each year he has presented a paper, and each of those eleven papers has duly appeared in the Proceedings. That’s already an enviable record, because the competition to get a paper accepted is ever greater. Add the fact that his first, ‘Western Mediterranean Vegetable Stews and the Integration of Culinary Exotica’, won the Sophie Coe Prize for 2005, and it becomes clear that he must be doing something right …
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Symposiasts at Work: Ken Albala

Ken Albala.

Ken Albala.

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Andrew Dalby introduces Symposiast Ken Albala

Ken has been a regular symposiast since 1997. Hear him speak at Oxford and meanwhile visit his blog, Ken Albala’s Food Rant, http://www.kenalbala.blogspot.com/ in which he claims to live at Stockfish, California … Believe this or believe it not, Ken was evidently fated to get trapped in the interface between words and food. One of his early books, The Banquet, surprises the reader with a series of tasty neologisms a few of which were convincing enough to escape his copy-editor’s keen eyes. Next time you encounter the word ‘apastasy’ (refusal to eat pasta) remember that Ken invented it.
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Spotlight on a Sponsor: Food and Wines from Spain

We are delighted to introduce María José Sevilla of Food and Wines from Spain, a loyal sponsor of the Oxford Symposium over many years.

Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background in food, and your current role at Food and Wines from Spain?

In the Spain where I grew up in the 1950s food was regional and very tasty. The years of hunger brought by the Civil War had been left behind and food production and distribution had reached some form of normality. My father was a demanding eater and my mother a good cook. She knew how to please him at the table as much as she knew how to please my brother and me. It was easy for her as she had learned to cook from her own mother, a professional cook and so I learned from both. I cook now as they did: rice and pasta, pulses, more fish than meat, plenty of fresh vegetables and a few puddings such as apple, brioche with caramel tart and cream caramel. In November we had pomegranate with sugar and strawberries and wine in the spring. We often cooked with fruit or served it fresh especially in the summer when the whole house used to smell as my house in Spain smells now in June and July with peaches, apricots, cherries, light and dark green figs.
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Spotlight on a Sponsor: Borough Market

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Scenes from Borough Market and local charity groups collecting donated produce from the market.

We are delighted to introduce Borough Market who are co-sponsoring the Saturday lunch at the Symposium with the Oxford Food Bank.

In this post David Matchett, the Market Development Manager, explores the role of offal at Borough Market.

Here at Borough Market, we love a bit of offal. Browse our butchery stalls and you’ll find them packed with livers and lights, hearts and heads. Partly, this is because our shoppers tend to be pretty serious about cooking and eating, and there’s nothing they enjoy more than the earthy joys of good offal. But the presence here of lots of undervalued cuts of meat is more than a matter of taste — it is an essential part of our philosophy.
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Spotlight on a Sponsor: Oxford Food Bank

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Oxford Food Bank at work

We are delighted to introduce the Oxford Food Bank who are co-sponsoring the Saturday lunch at the Symposium with Borough Market.

Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background in food, and your current role at the Oxford Food Bank

Hi, my name is Liz Buckle and I work as a volunteer at the Oxford Food Bank, I’ve been doing this for about a year since I ‘retired’ from a job with the Environment Agency – England’s environmental regulator. I don’t have a background in food but I do like to eat fresh, good quality food and feel that this is a basic necessity for everyone. My environmental background and experience means that I’m passionate about the need to reduce waste and that includes food waste. I’m also a really keen gardener and allotment holder so love being able to pick and eat fresh fruit and veg and eat it within hours.
I’m one of around 100 volunteers at the Food Bank and I drive or go out in vans to either collect fresh food from suppliers or to give food to charities.
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