Day one of the 82nd Anglo-American conference of Historians is now over and has already produced a lot of debate and discussion. The topic this year is food in history and we have two plenary sessions for you as podcasts. These are fascinating talks by two scholars uniquely qualified to talk on the subject.
First up was Ken Albala (University of the Pacific). His talk was a proposal for a unified theory of culinary evolution for the past 2,500 years. At the beginning of his talk he noted that he would be attempting to explain why there appears to be a recurring osculation between two fundamentally opposed aesthetics to food; periods focused on elite cooking verses periods focused on simple rustic fair.
The second plenary produced today as a podcast was by Steven Shapin (Harvard). Shapin talks about the saying ‘you are what you eat’ and how understanding of what this means has not only existed throughout time, but has radically changed as well. As someone in the audience said at the end, today it’s not always what you eat that shapes who you are, but what you don’t eat. Never in the past has this been the case.
To listen to these podcasts click on the link below:
Ken Albala (University of the Pacific), Toward a historical dialectic of culinary styles
Steven Shapin (Harvard), You Are What You Eat: Historical Changes in Ideas about Food and Identity
In addition, I attended Steven Shapin’s talk yesterday afternoon. Below is a link to the Tweets that I and others in the audience put up during the session. It gives a good bullet point list of Shapin’s arguments.
[View the story “Food in History – Steven Shapin (Harvard), You Are What You Eat: Historical Changes in Ideas about Food and Identity” on Storify]
Also check out the Anglo-American conference website.