Tuesday, 10 July 2012

More Oxford

Saturday morning dawned and after fortifying myself with a splendid breakfast I wandered across to the lecture theatre for the day's activities.  Paul Levy, Elisabeth Luard and Claudia Roden opened the proceedings by reminding us that the ethos of the Symposium was the exchange of ideas and this is encouraged via the medium of table talk.   Food is history, social, art, redemptive and culture.  And I thought I was just greedy.  We were advised that the Julia Child Foundation had made a substantial donation to enable this year's proceedings to be recorded and then put on the Symposium website so that is a treat to look forward to.  We were advised that there is a new virtual museum to food which can be found at www.thefoodmuseum.nl and should be worth looking at, it is in the process of being set up at the moment but a quick peek shows it will be worth visiting.

The young chef scholarship was awarded to Lucas Weir and the Sophie Coe Award to Di Murral.  Di's book, Food on the Move, tells the story of the inland waterways (specifically canals) and the people who lived on them and how they managed to feed their families whilst transporting goods around the country.  As Di accepted her award she announced that she is living proof that it is never too late to start writing as this is her first attempt and she looked to be over 60 years old and described herself as a rank amateur.

The first lecture was given by Laura Shapiro (Julia Child's biographer) who declared that food is social history and gave us a hysterically funny account of The Pillsbury Bake Off.  The Bake Off is a competition in America which began in 1949 and is still running today where the top prize is a million dollars.  Thousands of people enter with the weirdest ideas (marshmallow baked in bread dough and tunnel fudge cake are just two of the more notable winners) and 100 finalists are chosen every year, gathered together for a luxury holiday and bake their recipes under competition conditions when a winner is chosen.  There is a Bake Off Hall of Fame and every year a recipe book is published of the finalists' contributions - I must keep my eyes peeled for one in second hand shops.

To be continued

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