A dive into food history
Mariana Kavroulaki is an experimental archaeologist-food historian and she is passionate about sharing her knowledge of Greek food history and experimental archaeology.She encourages people to rethink historical, dining through synaesthesia and she uses food as symbol, metaphor and allegory creating moments of wonder and deep emotions. Her interactive gatherings are ranging from history-themed dinners and cooking courses to edible installations, and historical food walking tours and they can be marvellously enjoyable! We recently had a chance to get to know her a little better and dive into her interests and preferences.
1. How did you get started with culinary archaeology?
Having studied sociology and archaeology I have always been interested in food and being a naturally curious person it seems rather natural that I moved onto culinary archaeology.
2. What fascinates you the most about ancient cuisine?
The incredible stories of human diversity, creativity and ingenuity that are behind each dish and cooking method.
3. What is your most surprising/interesting discovery?
It is not a discovery, but a fact that never ceases to amaze me: the psychological and symbolic functions of food in the structure of a society.
4. Do you have a favourite historic recipe or cooking technique?
I am very fond of the main dish that was offered during the Macedonian Caranus' wedding banquet: A roast piglet lying on its back, showing its belly, was stuffed with many delicious things such as thrushes, paunches and fig-peckers. It was topped with egg yolks, oysters and scallops. This is a characteristic Hellenistic dish.
5. What can people expect from your workshops?
They will learn how to recreate historic recipes using replicas of ancient cooking pots and ovens. Also, they will approach history through cooking and taste, which is an excellent way to better understand the culture, economy and environment of Greece. Food is a driving force of human history after all.
6. Do you have any particular story that you would like to share with us (from your workshops, culinary experience etc)?
I will never forget a series of 6 dinners titled ‘My life on a plate’. These emotional and close to the heart dinners explored the immigrant experience and its influence on ancient and modern Greek cuisine through historical tales, personal stories, food and recipes they shared together.
And of course, I always enjoy the surprise of the participants when they realize that taste and food fashion have changed dramatically over time. Ancient Greece's attachment to the fish sauce is often thought as unimaginable and it certainly differs from modern Greek preferences.