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'Tasting Histories' Conference

February 4, 2009

Photo: Coffee beans

Note: Conference enrollment has exceeded capacity. The conference is now closed to new registrations.

Feb. 27-March 1, Friday-Sunday -- Leading food scholars from around the world will join regional food growers and farmers, culinary writers and restaurateurs, and community members for three days of research presentations, tastings, and roundtable discussions at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine Science, a new facility on the UC Davis campus that houses programs in sensory science, food science and technology, and viticulture and enology.

A dozen panel discussions will focus on such topics as the colonial history of curry; public school lunches; food as medicine; race and ethnicity in restaurant service; vegetarians in antebellum America; and the rise of the Rwandan specialty coffee industry.

Other conference highlights:

Friday, 3:10 p.m. to 4:40 p.m. -- Three top writers of popular food history -- Laura Shapiro ("Something from the Oven," "Perfection Salad"); Doris Witt ("Black Hunger: Soul Food and America"); and Rachel Laudan ("Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Cultural Heritage") -- will discuss the current fascination with the study of food and the challenges of writing about food.

Friday, 4:50 p.m. to 5:50 p.m. -- Susanne Friedberg, author of the forthcoming book "Fresh: A Perishable History," will talk about how the foods we think of as “fresh” are actually the products of complex, technological, agricultural and cultural systems.

Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. -- A tasting “walkabout” featuring regional wines and hors d’oeuvres.

Saturday, 5 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. -- A panel and tasting with regional food innovators who have paved the way for new tastes -- among them endive, caviar, olives and eau de vie -- and worked to bring them to our tables.

The conference is sponsored by the UC Davis Humanities Institute, Robert Mondavi Institute, Multi Campus Research Group on Food and the Body, and Multi Campus Research Group on World History. It is free and open to the public. Online registration is available at: http://foodandbody.ucdavis.edu/tastinghistories/.

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