Food and Landscape: The Olive Groves of Ayvalık

 The olive groves of Ayvalık Ayvalık.” width=

The olive groves of Ayvalık

Symposiast Aylin Öney Tan traces the way in which olive groves have shaped a Turkish townscape

Does the landscape that surrounds us define our culture? My answer would be a definite yes. The natural environment dictates what we eat, what we produce, what we create, and even how we think. As someone who has a background in architecture and conservation practices, I am excited to see that heritage sites are now being evaluated as cultural landscapes; in some cases including agricultural landscapes as an integral part of heritage. Agriculture is an inseparable part of our heritage; as its name readily suggests, it is a part of our culture and basis of our existence in nature.
Continue reading

Food and Landscape: Inglourious Bustards

 Grouse butt on Marrick Moor.” width=

Grouse butt on Marrick Moor

Image credit
Symposiast Thom Eagle considers whether game is a wild or a farmed food

There is no wilderness in Britain. The landscape which today forms the battleground between conservationist and gentry is only the latest expression of the work of millennia, to subjugate wildness into something amenable to humanity. The land is manmade. Once a vast forest covered the country, almost to the peaks of the uplands; the Broads and the Fens were water; the Suffolk coast was heath and wood. The nature which inhabits these industrial landscapes is that which we allow to exist – everything dangerous is long-gone, and everything not useful has retreated. Hares, snails, pigeons, rabbits, deer, introduced by waves of invaders and migrants as sources of food or entertainment, have all become part of the British ecosystem. Nothing is natural, nothing is wild; a muntjac eats the brambles in my garden.
Continue reading

Food and Landscape: Fields in Fulham

Late 17th century vegetable garden. From The new art of gardening by Leonard Meager.” width=

Late 17th century vegetable garden. From The new art of gardening by Leonard Meager

Symposiast Malcolm Thick finds the ghost of farmers’ fields in Fulham

Many (many) years ago I slept on the floor of a friend’s house one August while doing some research in the National Archives in London. The house was one of a small Victorian terrace on the busy Fulham Palace Road in West London. On the other side of the road was a large cemetery where my housemates went mushrooming in the early morning. Continue reading

Fumbling for Terroir

 alt=

Pewterware beer mug.

Volker Bach examines what Renaissance German beer culture can teach us about an elusive concept

In 1575, the German lawyer and beer connoisseur Heinrich Knaust published Five Books on the Divine and Noble Gift, the Philosophical, Precious and Wonderful Art of Brewing Beer [1]. In it, he writes:

“Regarding flavour, there is very great difference among beers, for above the common flavour of all beers, some are sweet, some slightly bitter, some partly sharp, some have a wine-like (weinlich) taste, …” (p. 67)

This book comes from a beer culture that thought of the origin of beers in terms very similar to the modern idea of terroir. Beers were traded as distinctive local products that connoisseurs understood intimately, certain varieties were chosen for specific occasions, and even illicit copying was a problem.
Continue reading