Fire, Knives and Fridges (topic)
The material culture of cooking tools and techniques
This year’s topic is inspired by the renewed interest in traditional cooking and preservation techniques, such as baking and fermenting, but also by innovations like sous-vide cooking and molecular gastronomy. Since prehistoric times humans have used tools, such as fire, grindstones, and knives to transform raw ingredients into edible food. Anthropologists such as Claude Lévi-Strauss and Richard Wrangham have suggested that it is the discovery of cooking which sets humans apart from apes and makes us a “cooking animal”. In their view, advancements in the technology of cooking mark the human transformation of (raw) nature into (cooked) culture.
From the control of fire onward, technology defines the way we eat: what we eat and cook depends on how we cook it. Tools and techniques are first adopted because they meet a certain need or solve a particular problem, but over time they become an integral part of food culture. Yet, they do not emerge in isolation, but through interaction with local resources, cultural preferences, technological innovations, prosperity levels, and beliefs. The symposium aims to explore how cooking techniques, skills and tools as a form of material culture have shaped food cultures and eating habits – and vice versa.
Date: Friday, 15 January – Saturday 16 January 2016
Venue: Aula of the University of Amsterdam, Singel 411, 1012 XM Amsterdam.
Friday, 15 January 2016
09:00 – 10:00 Registration and coffee
10:00 – 10:05 Welcome Steph Scholten
10:05 – 10:15 Professor J.M. van Winter Stipend 2016
10:15 – 10:45 – Keynote lecture by Ruth Oldenziel
10:45 – 11:15 Coffee break
11:15 – 12:15 Panel 1 – Culinary Identity Formation
- Chair: Ruth Oldenziel
- Hélène Le Dantec-Lowry: American Housewives, Can Openers, and TV Dinners: Fast and Convenient Cooking in U.S. Mass Consumer Society (1950s-60s)
- Elaine Mahon: ‘The Minister requests a dinner service of dignified design and bearing the official crest of the State’: The material culture of the Irish diplomatic table
12:45 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – 15:30 Panel 2 – Food technologies and practices : an archeological approach
- Chair: Mary Beaudry
- Stephen Wooten: Cooking Culture on the West African Savanna: A portrait of technologies and practices from prehistoric times to the present-day
- Professor J.M. van Winter Stipend 2015 winner Maxime Poulain: A Spanish hodge-podge and some heron on the side. Dietary practices on the 16th- to 17th-century castle of Middelburg-in-Flanders (Belgium)
- Stephanie Duensing: Sugar Tongs & Tea Spoons: An Archaeological Investigation of 18th-Century Consumerism’s Impact on London Society
15:30 – 16:00 Tea break
Saturday, 16 January 2016
9.30 – 10:30 Panel 3 – Cooking tools: usage and interpretation
- Chair: Marc Jacobs
- Regina Sexton: Toasting the Oatcake: an exploration of the use of the hardening stand in bread-making
- Mariëlla Beukers: Tools for Wine Appreciation – from the Middle Ages till the 19th Century
10:30 – 11:00 Coffee break
11:00 – 12:30 Panel 4 – Re-interpretations of technology
- Chair: Marc Jacobs
- Jon Verriet: The hay box, or slow-cooking avant la lettre: Changes in the cultural significance and practical use of our kitchen technology, 1900-2015
- Christopher Kaplonski: The unproduction of wine: eliding technology in natural and post-modern wine making
- Inga Bryden: Tools of Transformation: When is a Cheese Grater Not a Cheese Grater?
12:30 – 12:45 Conclusion Steph Scholten
Call for Papers
Abstract submission is closed.
For the CfP please look here: Call for Papers 2016.
The Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food has been made possible with the generous support of Amsterdam University Fund, Amsterdam School for Culture and History of the University of Amsterdam, the Social & Cultural Food Studies (FOST) research unit of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Doctoral School of Human Sciences of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.