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

July 2017 Wikithon announced

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Image from a previous wikithon at the British Library

This July the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery is teaming up with the Bodleian Library and the British Library for a WIKI-EDITATHON on the 7th July at St Catherine’s College, Oxford University

Do you feel discouraged by the culture of “alternate facts”? Do you still value evidence based information? If so, come and join us for a Wikieditathon taking place at St Catherine’s College on Friday 7th July, 11.00 – 15.00 ahead of the start of the 2017 OSFC. This workshop will provide you with all the skills and resources necessary to create new entries for and edit existing entries on the world’s most consulted encyclopedia.
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Invitation to The Oxford Food & Museum Project

Pitt Rivers Museum.” width=

The Oxford Food & Museum Project
Foodwriters’ views on objects from Oxford University Museum Collections
Linda Roodenburg and Laura Van Broekhoven
invite all those attending
our 2017 Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery
to the first event of
The Oxford Museum Project
to be held at
The Pitt Rivers Museum
on Friday July 7th 2017
from 1pm-3pm


The Oxford Museum Project is intended as an on-going collaboration between the museums of Oxford, many of which are rich in food-and-cookery-related artefacts, and those among our Symposiasts who would like to take advantage of an opportunity to expand their understanding of the history and practice of growing, preparing and cooking the world’s daily dinner. Continue reading

It Tastes Green

 Original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany.” width=

Original book source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany

Image credit
The rise, fall and persistence of galium odoratum

Volker Bach continues his occasional series on German historical recipes.

Many colour-flavour combinations are intuitive. An orange or yellow drink is likely to be citrus-flavoured, a red one will probably taste of berries. Green is harder to place. In France, you can be confident you will enjoy a refreshing menthe a l’eau while in the United States, lime is the safer bet. In Germany, the traditional culinary code dictates that green lemonade, ice cream or jelly taste of woodruff.

Known by its German colloquial name as Waldmeister (master of the forest), this plant with its distinctive white flowers and crowns of leaves around the stem grows in deciduous forests throughout Germany and can be gathered wild in spring and early summer. The leaves and stems can be used to flavour drinks and sweets. This is best done by allowing them to wilt slightly after they are picked and then pouring boiling water over them to extract the aroma. Steeping them for extended periods is not recommended because of their high coumarin content, but happens frequently. The result is an occasional headache.
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2013 Symposium Proceedings Free on Google Books


Food and Material Culture

We are pleased to announce that another volume of our proceedings is now freely available on Google Books: Food and Material Culture.

Find out about turkish coffee, table manners or thalis here.

The Symposium proceedings are published by Prospect Books for three years after publication. After this point they are freely available on Google Books.

Other recently available titles on Google Books include: Wrapped and Stuffed Foods, Celebration , and Cured, Fermented and Smoked Foods.

Symposiasts at Work: Naomi Duguid

Fiona Sinclair and Andrew Dalby introduce Symposiast Naomi Duguid

Naomi Duguid.

Naomi Duguid.

Image credit: Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir

A new book from Naomi Duguid is a reason to celebrate,” said David Tanis in the New York Times, setting the tone for a seductive review of Naomi’s Taste of Persia (published in September 2016). She is now author or part-author of eight books. Naomi has recently become a Trustee of the Oxford Food Symposium: and so, for the Symposium blog, Fiona asked her when she first heard of the Symposium and why it attracted her.
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Fumbling for Terroir


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.
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Next Wikieditathon Date Announced

 Image via Pixabay.” width= Image credit

On 21 January 2017 millions of people across the globe marched on behalf of women’s rights and, by extension, all forms of discrimination. Now, many wonder what tangible steps they can take to actually forward this ideology. A simple but meaningful way to do so is by adding responsible material to Wikipedia, the world’s most consulted encyclopedia, that can redress the imbalances of its current content.

Over the last 18 months, in collaboration with the British Library and Wikimedia, the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery has hosted three Wikieditathons. These events, held at the British Library, have provided training and support for Wikiediting with the aim of increasing (and improving) the volume of wiki entries about food, especially entries about women’s contributions to food and cooking culture (statistically 90% of wiki editors are men and this gender bias is reflected in Wiki content).

So far our Wikiedits have attracted MA students, historians and cookery writers as well as amateur food enthusiasts. The project has contributed a number of new and diverse entries on Wikipedia including information about the early twentieth century cookery writer Florence White, post-partum practices on feeding practices in modern-day China, a translation from German to English of an entry about the 16th-century cookbook author Anna Wecker and a page about the writer and hostess Mrs C. F. Leyel. A OFS Wiki webpage containing details of entries edited and added so far and a list of suggested entries still missing on Wikipedia will be available soon. In addition to the Wikiedits taking place in London, satellite events have taken place at the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute and NYU Food Studies and there are plans for events to take place in Istanbul, Texas, Australia and Paris in 2017.

The next Wikiedit will be held at the British Library on: 28th April from 10.00 – 17.00

Anyone interested to learn how to Wikiedit or wanting to improve their editing skills or just to edit in a friendly environment with a group of food enthusiasts is more than welcome to attend. We would also love to hear from people with Wiki editing skills who might be able to help with training and assistance. The British Library OSFC Wikiedits include lunch and refreshments, training from experienced Wikimedia staff and a brief but brilliant lunchtime talk – at the last event in July attendees were lucky enough hear from Barbara Ketcham Wheaton about her incredible cookery book database.

Please contact Carolin Young if you would like to attend the training event on the 28th April:

Please contact Polly Russell if you are an experienced Wikieditor and able to offer assistance on the day:

More information about the Wiki project can be found here.

Young Chef Report 2016

 Naomi Kelsey.” width=

Naomi Kelsey. Photo credit: Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir

Naomi Kelsey, one of the 2016 Young Chefs, reflects on her experience at the Symposium

My passion for food began at a young age: baking cakes with my mum and making fresh pasta with my dad and siblings; hanging fettuccine from horizontal broom handles set up all around the conservatory. I spent my first week in an industrial kitchen at 15 on a school arranged work experience at Lincoln College in Oxford, soon followed by part-time work at 16 in the kitchen at St Catherine’s College. I started on the Sunday shift making 9lbs of pizza dough, roasting over 50kg of potatoes and vast amounts of veg for the students’ Sunday lunch. Over summer holidays this became more of a full-time vocation and I would help in the pastry, larder and vegetarian sections. After finishing A levels and being utterly confused and unconvinced about following my peers and school expectations on going to university, I decided to spend a year doing a Diploma in Cookery at City of Oxford College. Two years and a couple of stints at charity dinners with locally esteemed chefs later, I finished my course and was free to explore the wonders of the professional kitchen, full time.

During my 4 years at St Catherine’s, and being the daughter of the head chef, Tim Kelsey, I was well aware of the Symposium and had heard about the wonders of the food and (occasionally eccentric) chefs that came in to the kitchen over the weekend. I think that the way catering is taught in college is highly focused on the practical aspect and less on the ethics, source and history behind food so feeling like this theoretic domain was lacking in my knowledge and awareness, I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to try and attend some lectures from prestigious food experts and enthusiasts at the Oxford Symposium.

In the weeks and days running up to the Symposium there is a buzz and an impending sense of organisation and logistics being manufactured behind the scenes. As the weekend nears, an increasing amount of specialised ingredients and recipes turn up and are somehow found a home in the ever busy kitchen. Unfamiliar faces start to appear and start to burrow away at their food preparation, requiring a few hands from the St Catherine’s team to help cater for the 200 Symposiasts. This year Oleg (the other recipient of the Young Chef Award) and I were helping with the preparation for Fergus Henderson’s offal offerings under his watchful eye and carried out by his team. I was in charge of creating vegetarian alternatives for each of the 5 courses in case there were any queasy Symposiasts who didn’t fancy the deep fried tripe.

Over the weekend I attended many interesting and engaging lectures on submitted papers, notably Paul Rozin’s talk on disgust. I managed to sneak back into the kitchen for Jacob Kenedy’s Saturday night dinner which was offal from an Italian perspective using some incredible ingredients, in particular infant calf stomach which still held the residue of the mother’s milk. After dinner the evening moves into the JCR bar with more talks and a chance to mingle with the other food enthusiasts. This is prime time for networking and introducing yourself to as many people as you can – you never know who you may meet and what it could lead to. For me I met semi-retired food journalist Cherry Ripe who offered me one months’ free accommodation in Sydney and contacts to arrange a few stages at celebrated restaurants. So in November I spent my time in Sydney and had a great experience working at Sean’s Panaroma on Bondi Beach and Yellow, a fine dining vegetarian restaurant.

My advice to the next Young Chefs is to take every opportunity you can to meet the people who attend and get stuck into the work in the kitchen at St Catz. It will be an experience you will never forget and will hopefully get many more out of it!

Find out more about the Young Chef programme here. Details of how to apply are here. The deadline for applications is 1st March 2017.

The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery Oral History Project

 Image via Pixabay.” width= Image credit
Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire introduces a new oral history project

On becoming a Trustee two years ago I was asked to develop an oral history project relating to the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery. This is an ongoing project that will grow over time and hopefully help capture some of the backgrounds, stories, philosophies and memories of various symposiasts over the years, be they former trustees, organisers, or general attendees who are willing to share their experiences publicly.

The first nine interviews have been transcribed and both the audio and the transcription are available at the link here