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Yale historian to speak about the history of European food culture on April 7

Yale historian to speak about the history of European food culture on April 7

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Yale historian Paul Freedman, Ph.D., will discuss the medieval history of food at a presentation at 7 p.m. on April 7 in the Mary L. Welch Honors Hall on the corner of 4th and Basin Streets. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Freedman’s presentation, "Basic Principles of Medieval Cuisine," will build on the ideas presented in his book, “Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination.” Recent trends in food production and consumption focus on organic and local foods, which was the case for the medieval period, when almost all food was locally and organically grown. Approaching history from the perspective of culinary practices helps correct mistaken assumptions about the European Middle Ages, and calls into question whether it was truly the “Dark Ages,” characterized by ignorance and economic stagnation.

Freedman is the Chester D. Tripp Professor of History and chair of the History of Science and History of Medicine programs at Yale University. He is the author of several books, most recently “Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination” (2008, Yale University Press) on the demand for spices in medieval Europe. He also has edited a number of essay collections, including “Food: The History of Taste,” which is an illustrated collection of essays about food from prehistoric to contemporary times (2007, University of California Press). His teaching and publications have earned him numerous awards including the 2008 Cookbook Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Prior to Yale, he taught for 18 years at Vanderbilt where he was awarded and was the Robert Penn Warren Humanities Center Fellow in 1991-1992. He was also a visiting fellow at the Max-Planck-Institut für Geschichte in Göttingen in 2000 and was directeur d’Études Associé at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris in 1995. Freedman earned his B.A. at the University of California at Santa Cruz. From the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, he earned an M.L.S. and Ph.D. in history.

The lecture is sponsored by the endowed Ewing Lecture Series, which is named for Robert H. Ewing who taught at Lycoming College for 27 years, to recognize his deep religious faith, passion for history and strong devotion to a liberal arts education. A revered teacher and friend of the college, Ewing’s inspirational influence prompted students, colleagues and community members to establish the Ewing Fund and lecture series in 1973, shortly after his retirement.

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