Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Conference: Foodways and Heritage

Prof. Eugene Anderson gives keynote speech
On 3rd-5th January 2013, the department co-organized the International Conference on Foodways and Heritage: A Perspective of Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage with Hong Kong Heritage Museum and the University of Tours, France. Scholars from different regions and various disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, history, and gender studies, discussed the politics of foodways and heritage, in particular, how different kinds of food are produced, sustained and inherited while at the same time how they are preserved as intangible heritage for various reasons. Eugene N. Anderson, Professor Emeritus at University of California, Riverside, U.S.A, gave the keynote speech "Learning is Like Chicken Feet: Assembling the Chinese food system." A roundtable was particularly devoted to French cuisine, as a response to the UNESCO's decision of adding "gastronomic meal of the French" to the "intangible cultural heritage of humanity."

Group photo in a preserved meat shop in Sheung Wan
The conference included field trips that showed two distinct scenes of foodways in Hong Kong. The field trip in the morning walked the participants through the Nam Pak Hong in Sheung Wan, where dried food from all over the world has been traded since the mid-19th century. It is this neighborhood that made Hong Kong a successful and important trading hub over the last century. The traditional features of trading can still be seen today. 

In the afternoon, the group visited a Freshwater Fish farm in Tai San Wai, Yuen Long. In Hong Kong, over 90% of the freshwater fish farms are engaged in polyculture. The traditional operation of fishponds make important contributions to the local community and wildlife, in particular waterbirds, which demonstrates  the ‘wise use’ principle of wetland conservation, a way for both wildlife and humans to mutually benefit from the productivity of a wetland without compromising its vital ecological functions. 

Good food that conveys social and cultural messages of the local communities added more flavor to the conference. Over the three days, participants tasted authentic French food made by Cantonese chefs, cantonese Dim-sum lunch and country-style dinner in Yuen Long. In his concluding remarks, Prof. Eugene Anderson recalled the gastronomic landscape of Hong Kong in the 1960s, as well as the wonton he had in Yuen Long back then. The best wonton he had ever had so far, said Prof. Anderson.

*Proceedings of this conference will be published later this year. You can find more information of the conference on the conference website.

No comments:

Post a Comment