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Lezing | Eindejaarsevenement

Medieval MasterChefs: From Byzantine Christmas Banquets to the Leiden Food Labs

dinsdag 12 december 2023
Van Steenis
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden
Reuvens Hall (main hall Van Steenis)

End of Year Event

On December 12, 2023, the Faculty of Archaeology will hold its annual End of Year event. This year will feature a lecture by Professor Joanita Vroom (16:00 - 17:15), and serve three appetizers that have been re-created from historical recipes for this festive occasion.

For the lecture we use a seating system. Please register in time if you want to be certain of a place!

Note that if all the seats are taken you will not be able to register anymore, yet you are still very welcome to attend the lecture.

At 17:15 hours we will hold the annual End of Year Drinks. Everyone is welcome for this. No registration needed!


Feasting, banquets, and drinking have throughout history been important features of court culture. In the highest circles, dining habits could range from mere conspicuous consumptions to impressive entertainment or a show-off for visitors of the state’s or lord’s power. This was also the case with Byzantine imperial receptions and banquets, especially on holy days such as Christmas. These grand occasions were in essence a display of the Emperor’s sovereignty, even on the level of the culinary performance and display of food. This lecture aims to discuss how archaeology can shed light on the development of these consumptive performances within the Byzantine court through the study of the material culture which formed their physical context, ranging from the humble cooking pot to exquisite imported artifacts.

When talking about the consumption of food in the past, it is also meaningful to learn about taste in relation to earlier cuisines. To understand taste and its development in space and time, experimental archaeology can help by re-creating historical recipes and presenting the results to modern consumers. In this lecture attention is therefore given to the taste- or food labs which were organized as public outreach events with Leiden students in the past decade. During these events, participants were asked to fill in questionnaires with specific questions about their taste experiences while eating the historical dishes, and about their knowledge of historical food.  

Finally, the audience attending this lecture will be invited to participate in a similar experiment by tasting three different appetizers that will be re-created from historical recipes exclusively for this festive occasion. 

Register to be seated for the lecture!

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