Programme Snapshots | Memory Banquet
Can you describe your Being Human event(s) in 140 characters?

Memory Banquet: from madeleine moments to brainfood, a menu of appetising events making you think about your food & eating, past & present.

Can you tell us a bit about the research that this relates to?

Across the university of Roehampton, we have researchers actively working with food and through food to explore questions from how appetites are made to the uses of recipes in the history of domestic life, and from the literary resonances of foods to their performativity in modern drama and dance. Food and its eating is so central to human life, we couldn’t think of a more perfect focus for our contribution to Being Human.

What will people learn or experience that they can’t encounter elsewhere?

We’re really pushing ourselves to do different things with our research at this event. On the one hand we are sharing with the public results of our research, in Nicki Humble’s public lecture, and the processes by which we do our research, in the workshops. But we are also offering the opportunity to encounter food in more interactive ways: in an apple trail, in collaboration with the Urban Orchard Project and our own student-led Growhampton project which will take participants on a tour around our productive and historic campus; Amaara Raheem’s one-to-one performance, Hand to Mouth, where participants can  journey into their own food memories; and the Banquet itself, which fuses Renaissance ideas of table talk with dishes that reflect and provoke discussion of food as a carrier, creator and artefact of memory.

How is this relevant to everyday life?

Almost every food act we make on a daily basis has consequences, and leaves a trace or enacts deep-seated customs around food. Something as innocuous as fish fingers for school dinners on a Friday is a residue of the continuities of religious fasting which survived the Reformation. Food makes us physically, and it makes us culturally: it IS essentially the stuff of being human.

And finally, please tell us five favourite things about your location/venue

Grove House (where our event takes place) is a beautiful late eighteenth-century villa, designed in part by James Wyatt for Sir Joshua Vanneck.

Along with four eighteenth-century houses (Grove House, Downshire House, Mount Clare and Parkstead), our historic campus also contains: two lakes, two neo-classical temples, one sham bridge, an eighteenth-century tunnel, an ice house and grotto, a mausoleum, a lot of Canada geese, ducks and coots, and least one campus cat.

Grove House stands on the site of one of the largest non-royal houses built in 17th-century London, Roehampton Great House. Our new orchard is planted in what was probably the kitchen garden for this house, while some of its foundations survive in the cellars of Grove House.

Growhampton, the student-led sustainability project, cultivates mini-allotments around the campus. It also runs the award-winning organic Hive Café, which uses produce from the allotments to make scrummy cakes, and brings food and its sustainable production right into the heart of the curriculum.

During World War One, Grove House was home to a Royal Navy Kite Balloon division, and kite balloons (used for surveillance over WW1 battlefields) were trialled on the lawns.

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