Friday, August 31, 2018

FOOD AND HISTORY

Thursday, 30 August, I followed a session of the Summer School "History of the Book" at the University of Amsterdam. I have chosen the topic "De Indische Keuken: Ontwikkeling van de Indonesische Keuken" (Indies Kitchen: Development of the Indonesian Kitchen) guided by Marleen Willebrands. 

There were about 20 participants, mostly experts in the kitchen area, culinaire history and publishers of cooking books. There was also a cooking celebrity, a famous cook from the television channel 24Kitchen. There is a lady who will start a research about rice. There is a graduate from a master's study called 'Food History and Culture" in Brussels.  The more I learned about the other participants, the more I was fascinated how serious is relationship between food and history. It is also important to mention that most of them have direct and indirect relations with the Dutch Indies. 

We analysed recipes about Indonesian dishes based on cooking books written from the period when the Dutch arrived in the Indonesian Archipelago in the 16th century until recipes from the 21th century. We studied carefully the hand written recipes, tried to understand every ingredients and cooking instructions followed by discussions about similarities and differences with our practices today.

I think we should have a session with the reciprocal topic, the Dutch influences in the Indonesian kitchen. 

Personally I didn't intend to learn the recipes. I have learned from the best teacher I have, that was my mother. I was only curious how far and how much the Indonesian influences in the Dutch kitchen. I got the answer from this session. 

Good to mention that I was simply fascinated with how dilligently the Dutch people to take all the trouble to understand the topic. Wow. We sat in the room for about 3,5 hours to learn about this while outside was sunny (which is seldom in the Netherlands). 

And for those who will join the club, there is a symposium on the History of Food, 16-17 November  2018, in the University of Amsterdam, with the theme "Body and Soul: Examining the Historical Relation between Nutrition, Health and Culture." Just google it and you will find detailed information. 

















Wednesday, August 29, 2018

LOVE AND PASSION FOR MUSEUMS

I have been involving in museum improvement programs in Indonesia for several years now.  I visited several museums in various cities in Indonesia and noticed that museums are not only about collections and management. 

We can organize many trainings, many field visits as comparison and many discussions what the best museum is but in the end how we implement our knowledge and experience in running a museum. 

There is one thing that I noticed about lively museums: they have always a good brigade of volunteers! These volunteers have love and passions about subjects of their museums and that is why they never get bored to involve in many activities. 

It is love, it is passion that reflects back in aura of a museum so the museum doesn't look dead, dusty and soulless. Visitors see that, feel that and stay longer because of that. I know and experience it based on my own observation. Why some museums are lively and have good rate of visitors, other museums are simply empty and dusty. Nothing make me sad more than visiting museums with valuable and impressive collections but nobody care, nobody come and nobody do something. On the other hand, I was fascinated with museums that run by passionated volunteers such as these two museums, the Naarden Vesting Museum and the Smalspoormuseum (Small Track Museum) Valkenburg, Leiden. 

I am sure there are museums in Indonesia with a good brigade volunteers. I know that the National Gallery Museum in Jakarta has volunteers from the Indonesian Heritage Society who are mostly expats. I still do not know Indonesian volunteers yet, also in other museums. I want to believe that they are exist. 










Wednesday, August 15, 2018

THINGS THAT MATTER

The current Exhibition "Things That Matter" in Tropen Museum Amsterdam is impressive for me. It is about things that are important in someone's life as an individual or as a society. It is an exhibition not only about tangible things but also the intangible like language and beliefs. Those are delicate subjects that are complicated to discuss in a global perspective since so much options and possibilities. Somehow, the curator of the exhibition could formulate those subjects into practical views and has chosen specific examples to describe theiw complexity. It is not simplicity, it is a means to explain. I appreciated it and enjoyed the exhibition tremendously. 















Monday, August 13, 2018

THE WORLD HERITAGE SITE OF TROY, TURKEY

I visited the Ancient City of Troy, in Province of Canakkale, Turkey, 29 July 2018. 

It is a world heritage site since 1998. Troy, with its 4000 years of history, is one of the most famous archaelogical sites in the world. It was founded when the archaelogist Heinrich Schliemann did his first excavations in 1870. 

Troy is also famous due to the mythological Trojan Horse from a tale about the Trojan War, that was believed to take place in this city around 13th or 12th Century BC. 

It happened after many years of endeless war, when the Greek had an idea to built a giant wooden horse to hide about 40 members of an elite force inside it . They sailed away and acted as if that horse was a gift to the Trojans who pulled it into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek elite force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army who has sailed back. The independent city of Troy fell in the hand of the Greek. 

That is why the Trojan horse becomes a symbol of trick to invite a target into a securely protected bastion or place. It inspires name of a malicious computer program, Trojan,  that tricks users into willingly running the program. 

The World Heritage Site of Troy, Turkey

The Trojan Horse

Inside the Trojan Horse






















Friday, August 10, 2018

OLIVE AS INDUSTRIAL COMMODITY

I visited Lesbos Island, Greece, for almost two weeks in July and August. I was attracted to how much olive trees and all its related products play an important role in economic, social and cultural development of the country. I couldn't learn about this natural commodity in all aspects, so I focused on its heritage element, as part of industrial heritage of Greece.

These are what I have learned about olive from the book about Vranas Olive Press Museum, in Papados. "There are about 11 million olive trees in Lesbos Island. The bonds between olive trees and the residents of Lesbos is so deep on a practical, ideological and aesthetic level. The olive ans its oil, from a torment to the farmer and his animals, became an industry, with monstrous machines, tall chimneys and account books. Some became very wealthy, built mansions like those they saw while travelling to western Europe, dressed fashionable, created theaters and clubs. Others realized the necessity of communal organization and created associations, cooperatives and communal enterprises". 

I visited two museums about olive-oil press, one in Aghia Paraskevi and the other in Papados. 

The first (Museum of Industrial Olive Oil Production) is used to be a communal olive-oil press factory so storyline of the museum has a very strong character of collectiveness and roles of community distinguished profiles in supporting the local economy through olive-oil production. Most of the profiles were succesful immigrants who were originally from Aghia Paraskevi and sent financial contributions to their village. 

The museum in Papados (Olive-Press Museum of Archipelagos Society) showed a former factory owned by an established clan in the area, the Vranas. The abandoned former factory was taken over by the Archipelagos Society, a group of concerned people who have ideals to conserve local culture and heritage. 

Both former factories are well restored and adjusted into museums for public education and tourism. They are professionally managed, very informative and entertaining. A visitor like me who have zero knowledge about olive oil production can learn quickly and in a fun way about it. I could also learn more about other things like from a temporary exhibition about clay pottery culture of Lesbos. Or about village development financed by olive industry. Or about who was who in the local society. It is amazing how much a visitor can learn from a well managed museum.