The Symposium of Australian Gastronomy was first held in Adelaide in 1984. This year I attended as it came of age in Melbourne.
On the first weekend in December this year I beetled over to Melbourne to attend a feast for both my brain and belly – the 21st Symposium of Australian Gastronomy. The first ever Australian Symposium was held in Adelaide in 1984 and was convened by Michael Symons, Gay Bilson and Graham Pont, with attendees including Don Dunstan and the now-internationally renowned Australian food historian Barbara Santich.
This year was the coming of age for the event, which was inspired by the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery.
Held over four days, the conference takes a particularly academic look at food, food production, foodways and food security. This years program was extensive and totally satisfying. It offered eight plenary sessions, 24 different papers, various panels and workshops – all delivered on various aspects of food and presented by food scholars, researchers, producers and writers from around the world.
The many speakers and presenters included eminent US food scholar Dara Goldstein, founding editor of Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, Stephanie Alexander, wine afficionado Max Allen and Bunurong man, Bruce Pascoe, the award-winning writer, editor and anthologist. Bruce is the author of Dark Emu, Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident – an exploration of Aboriginal agriculture which has been shedding light on the history of indigenous land cultivation and management practices.
Check out the symposium’s website for the full program – it may even be possible to get copies of some of the papers if you are interested (although I’m not entirely sure about that).
Of course you don’t put 150 or so food experts together without some pretty serious feeding plans and, as expected, the food was spectacular. They included excellent meals at some of the local Melbourne culinary hot spots, including Mr. Ottorino and Marion Wine Bar, Andrew McConnells new venture, but the utter show stoppers were truly the lunches and dinners we enjoyed as part of the conference.
Unfortunately hunger (greed?) and lack of adequate light precluded much in the way of photographs, but I think you’ll get my drift from those I’ve included.
The Symposium is a moveable feast and is next scheduled to be held in 18 months time. Stay tuned for the location.