Kokoretsi and other Greek Easter Delicacies

 The caul fat, kept in vinegary water, is unwrapped width=

The caul fat, kept in vinegary water, is unwrapped

Symposiast Aglaia Kremezi on the most sought after Greek Easter delicacy

The mass slaughtering of Easter lamb reaches its peak the week before Greek Easter and not just vegetarians but even meat-loving Americans, and Europeans express shock at the site of whole, head-on carcasses of young animals spit-roasted over charcoal fire. They are even more appalled seeing the animal’s entrails – the liver, lung, and sweetbreads – meticulously threaded and enclosed in the caul fat, wrapped tightly with the intestines in order to make kokoretsi, the most sought after Greek Easter delicacy.
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It’s All Edible: Four Views of Offal – a video

Peter Hertzmann introduces his offal overview video ‘It’s All Edible: Four Views of Offal’ from his short but rich plenary at the Symposium in July

On the Sunday morning of the 2016 Symposium, I had the pleasure of presenting information about offal from the classic meat-based point of view. As I began to put together the presentation, I quickly realized that there wouldn’t be sufficient time to cover the topic in a presentation. My solution was to write a paper about the subject. Once I had the paper written, I realized that even it was quite incomplete, but I was too lazy to write a book! When I started converting the paper into a presentation, it was still too long so I decided to make it into a video. (In my experience, I can present the same information much faster as a video than a live presentation.)
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Whoever heard of Vegetable Offal?

 A recent attempt to grow carrot tops on the windowsill.” width=

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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