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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Symposiasts at work: Pelin Dumanlı

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.

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Symposiasts at Work: Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir


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.
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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, 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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