Andrew Dalby introduces Symposiast Pelin Dumanlı
Today we have naming of parts … Pelin Dumanlı at her culinary workshop in Bodrum
All images: Pelin Dumanlı
Pelin reached Oxford in 2016… at last. She first proposed a paper back in 2012 (‘pushing her luck’, as she says), soon after beginning her master’s at Bilgi University in İstanbul. That proposal wasn’t accepted, but she doesn’t give up easily and found that the topic in July 2016, ‘Offal’, was what she wanted: exactly the theme of her research, and just the kind of food she loves to work with.
A portrait of Nanna (c. Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir)
We continue our ‘Symposiasts at Work’ series by introducing Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir, our reigning maven of Icelandic cookery.
Nanna, would you tell us a bit about your background, and how you became interested in food and food history?
My name, Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir, means ‘Nanna, daughter of Rögnvaldur’. I was born in the Skagafjörður region of northern Iceland in 1957 and grew up on a farm called Djúpidalur, where my family had lived since 1733. As a child, I took part in the work on the farm, and learned age-old food and cooking traditions from my mother and other relatives. Resources were limited, for instance there were almost no vegetables and we got apples and oranges only at Christmas, but I was always reading about exotic things I had never seen, like asparagus or eggplants or fresh pineapple, and trying to imagine what they looked and tasted like. My parents later moved to a fishing village in the region, and I worked as a teenager there in a fish processing plant. I can’t ever remember not being interested in food and cooking and often did cooking experiments at home. Many of them were spectacular failures, frequently because I was trying to recreate dishes I had only read about and had neither a recipe nor the correct ingredients.
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.
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.)
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?
Reproduced with permission by Bloomsbury Publishing
We are delighted to congratulate our former Director, Elisabeth Luard, on two counts:
– On her Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guild of Food writers
– On the upcoming publication of her new book, Squirrel Pie (and other Stories): Adventures in Food Across the Globe
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.
A 15th-century depiction of shechita and bedikah.
The Symposium’s President, Claudia Roden, shares a recipe for brain fritters and considers the place of offal in Sephardic communities.
Fritas di Meyoyo / Brain Fritters
These delicate fritters, crisp outside and deliciously soft and creamy inside are popular throughout the Sephardi world.
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.