1The setting for the workshop was a heady mix of history, multiculturalism and picturesque riverscapes. Within the group there was, as in many food studies, a preponderance of female scientists (or ethnographers), but the group interacted on lively, non-gendered terms - focusing instead on an appreciation of locals food and enthusiasm for research shared by all, and points of theoretical variance within that.
2The food provided by our hosts was of the very highest eating and local food qualities. We were treated to buffets supplied by many small French business men and women who took the time to share with us their wealth of knowledge about recipes, production processes, and techniques for surviving in a highly competitive global marketplace.
3These tasty morsels were enjoyed in the courtyard of the grand old University, reached via an impressive winding stone staircase. The cloister of the courtyard provided perfect protection from the blazing Bordeaux sun. On leaving each day’s learned but intense session, we stepped from the University into La Place…a meeting point for many - café society on the perimeter, the dogged homeless under the central modernist war memorial, and, for a few days, the Pays Basque tourist board proffering their wares. From here we could turn right and head into Europe’s longest shopping precinct leading eventually to a glorious fountain boasting gallant bronze horses with nostrils flaring, recently restored to pre-World War II glory. A walk from there across the wide open square to the riverside quay 500 metres away, two towering pillars that framed the embarkation point stood as a stark reminder of our shared European shame, bearing chilling carvings depicting the domination of the slave trade.
4Or if we stepped to the left we could return to the barrio in which our hotel was located – complete with all night entertainment from the bar below - and disappear into one of the many snug and friendly bars where could be found an anthropologist’s dream of multi-culturalism including an Afro-Cuban with the broadest shoulders and smile to match that I have ever met. On my first day, having left my window open in the night and curious as to the wisdom of this practice, I enquired of a charming patron if there were indeed mosquitoes in Bordeaux and was kindly informed that there were not but that there was a synagogue opposite!
5The five days soon passed amid debate, pleasantries and sheer good eating. A trip to the hubbub of the covered market completed a memorable visit to France’s best kept secret. Thanks to Isabelle for her fascinating history of Bordeaux’s buildings and vivid depiction of rural Aquitaine, and to all our hosts for their hospitality and good humour.
Georgina Holt, « Workshop experience », Anthropology of food [Online], S2 | March 2007, Online since 20 April 2007, connection on 23 April 2017. URL : http://aof.revues.org/497Top of page
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