Nineteenth Symposium of Australian Gastronomy
Sydney, 5-8 April 2013
‘The Generous Table’
Call for Contributions (deadline: 10 August, 2012)
To invite someone is to take responsibility for their well-being the whole
time they are under our roof – Aphorism XX, Brillat-Savarin
The Nineteenth Symposium explores themes of hospitality, sharing and social inclusion in an era of billionaire power, greed is good, anger and entitlement, privatisation and ‘no’.
What used to be called ‘soup kitchens’ have changed in interesting ways with charity meals providing not just nutrition but also community. The Loaves and Fishes Free Restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield will thus provide an appropriate venue. Operated by the Uniting Church’s Exodus Foundation, the restaurant serves around 600 meals daily for the homeless and others in need.
The event runs from Friday evening, 5 April, until Monday morning, 8 April 2013. (This is a week later than originally advised.)
The topic is the ‘generous table’, its limits and its negations and in all possible dimensions - from the intimate (a mother forever inviting ‘waifs and strays’) through the literary (‘Please, sir, I want some more’), popular (Scrooge McDuck), consumer (how generous is the ‘Whopper’?) and empirical (a historical study of a city’s socialite banquets) to the political (‘Lucky Country’ becomes ‘Stingy Country’), economic (market rationality and philanthropy), philosophical (Epicurean solidarity based on mutual need) and theoretical (a Muslim theology of meal-based charity).
Separately, and also responding to requests at the eighteenth symposium in Canberra, we invite considerations (papers, meals, panel discussions) of gastronomy itself. How is Brillat-Savarin’s dream doing? Has the symposium done its job?
This symposium will be different, if for no other reason than a limit on numbers. We therefore invite immediate expressions of interest.
In conjunction with this (and in keeping with the original derivation of ‘symposium’ from sym = together), everyone attending will contribute in some way. So, we also call for proposed contributions.
This is not a spectator event, so please think about what you can offer, and discuss proposals with us. You might offer to make the coffee or the official photographic record, or something entirely unexpected. We need papers and also meals that directly address the theme.
Working with the chefs and staff at the Loaves and Fishes Free Restaurant, we employ gastronomic imaginations to provide three breakfasts for around 150 guests and two lunches for 250, plus an anticipated 60 or so symposium participants. We might work with whatever gleaned materials the restaurant happens to have available, or supply our own. A person or a group might devise and supervise a menu that others put into practice, simply volunteer their labour, or take responsibility for everything. More information can be provided about the commercial kitchen and dining room, which is a lovely, old church hall. An option for one lunch might be to accompany an Exodus van to a site adjoining Reverse Garbage, Marrickville.
Proposals are invited for the three evenings, too, when we have the restaurant to ourselves (another Exodus van is off serving in the city), so that the format can be more flexible and we can serve alcohol. While we intend that the symposium stays largely on-site, an evening meal could be elsewhere. Ashfield is richly endowed with Chinese restaurants.
That’s just an outline; we welcome suggestions as to how you might best contribute. To indicate further options, yours could be a significant donation to the Loaves and Fishes Free Restaurant of money or a store-cupboard of preserves. The committee will even accept special pleading, such as having contributed inordinately to previous symposiums.
To enable reasonably orderly planning, we ask for immediate expressions of interest (and please ensure that any other potential participants know what’s going on). Secondly, offer a contribution with the deadline for proposals being Friday 10 August 2012. The committee will require enough detail to make a reasonable assessment.
Marion Maddox (convenor)
For the committee (Staci Crutchfield, John Fitzpatrick, Jill Hayes, Jennifer Hillier, Kelie Kenzler, Gae Pincus, Rosemary Stanton, Michael Symons)