Symposium on the History of Food
On Friday November 15th and Saturday 16th 2019 the annual Amsterdam Symposium on the History of Food took place at the main auditorium of the University of Amsterdam. Such a pleasure to listen to great papers presented, discussing (post-) colonial foodways; creating, negotiating, and resisting transnational food systems. Two award ceremonies are part of the symposium.
Joop Witteveen Prize
Maarten Hell, author of De Amsterdamse herberg 1450-1800: geestrijk centrum van het openbare leven (published by VanTilt, Nijmegen, 2017) was the winner in the Academic category, the Joop Witteveen Prize. A book that discusses not only the history of food and drink as served in the inns in Amsterdam between 1450 and 1800, but also the development of what we would call hospitality.
The prize is named after culinary historian and author Joop Witteveen (1928-2016). Together with his partner Bart Cuperus and Johannes van Dam (see below) he founded the Dutch Gastronomische Bibliotheek (gastronomic library), now part of the historical collection of the University of Amsterdam.
Johannes van Dam Prize
Alain Passard received the prestigious Johannes van Dam prize. The jury, chaired by professor Louise O. Fresco (President of the Wageningen University & Research Executive Board), mentioned his impressive contribution to international cuisine. She highlighted that many years ago Alain Passard shifted towards vegetables, creating a new balanced cuisine, without banning fish and meat from his menu. The vegetables and fruit are organic and produced on his own three farms. His combinations and flavours are exceptional, just think about a side dish with haricots verts, almonds, white peach and basil.
His second important contribution to today’s cuisine is to introduce colour and art as elements of cooking, next to flavour, shape, odour, temperature and texture. His approach is unique and his recipes are a tribute to vegetables, fruit, flavour and colour.
The prize is named after culinary writer and critic Johannes van Dam (1946-2013) who was not only known for his reviews of restaurants but also for his massive collection of books on food and drink plus his passion for tasty, good food. Amongst his favourite dishes were the typical Dutch kroketten (‘croquets’ in French). Normally a cheap and fat snack, but Johannes van Dam was convinced that it is a true delicacy provided – of course – it is prepared the right way.
Mr. Passard was clearly very happy, proud and touched to receive the prize. In his speech he emphasized the importance of the season. He mentioned that nature is a cook book in its own right, one that is beautiful and should be followed.
We couldn’t agree more.