Culi-nerdy delights

Illustration By Mark Stivers

The Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis hosted its premiere academic conference—Tasting Histories: Food and Drink Cultures Through the Ages—over the weekend of February 29, which began with an impressive glimpse into the Shields Library viticulture and enology collection. The Beardesque wine and food bibliographer Axel Borg displayed the library’s copy of the first French-language book on wine, dating to 1549. The keynote speaker on the first night, Susanne Freidberg, author of Fresh: A Perishable History, established a theme for the conference: a reminder that the embrace of local, rustic foodstuffs is a cycling fashion that has been occurring, by her account, since mid-17th-century France. Also very interesting was some thought-provoking critique of locavorism as viewed through the prism of class. Food and wine was provided by local producers such as Putah Creek Winery and Tsar Nicoulai caviar. Most of this conference was open to the public, and the stimulating nature of this event bodes well for local food nerds. Check for future happenings.