Symposium J-4 Consuming the Foreign in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Medieval and Early Modern recipe titles are mostly descriptive, but sometimes evoke an image of the other: Muslim, pagan or Turkish dishes are the more exotic ones, e.g. medieval sources frequently mention “pagan pies” and Marx Rumpolt includes “Turkish rice” into his cook book. But there are also dishes named after European countries or regions such as Polish Soups and Tyrolian noodles. Even ingredients were often given specific geographic designations, e.g. Nuremberg gingerbread.

Foodstuffs and their preparation are always entangled in a complex web of transfers of knowledge, technologies and practices, connecting people from different backgrounds and places that lead to various perceptions of the foreign. Investigating such entanglements reveals specific modes of appropriation and knowledge formation.

The present panel seeks to explore the interest in consuming the foreign by asking the following questions: What ingredients are used in each specific recipe? Do the recipes show signs of cultural transfer, e.g. from Arabic cuisine to Latin Europe or – in the case of Polish soups – from Poland to Austria? Are other explanations possible for the choice of the recipe names? In what way did the personal experiences of the authors influence designation habits? What are the cultural connotations of religious and place names and of ingredients in the specific setting where the recipe came into being?

Many of these questions can only be answered by facilitating methods of the digital humanities and databases such as CoReMa. By including contributions from the Middle Ages and Early Modern Europe, the panel aims for a more thorough and systematic understanding of this well-known phenomenon.

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