If a recent Renaissance banquet hosted by University of the Pacific history professor Ken Albala is any indication, students of the Stockton school’s new food studies master’s degree program in San Francisco are in for a tasty, enlightening and enriching experience.
To get the word out about the program (the first of its kind on the West Coast, which is now enrolling students for fall 2015), Albala cooked up bountiful four-course feast based on an Italian wedding banquet thrown by the duchess of Urbino in 1584.
Among the 20 provocative dishes on the menu were capon torteletti, blancmange with candied almonds, roasted turtledoves, Bergamot pears roasted in the oven, prosciutto on golden toast with fried sage and parsley and salad of peacock flesh in citron. Albala – who admittedly “couldn’t get a peacock” and substituted more familiar poultry – shared fascinating tidbits with guests, such as the fact that seemingly exotic spices were plentiful and widely used during the period, and that there wasn’t a dessert course; sweet and savory dishes were served side by side.
Albala, director of the program and author or editor of 22 books including “Eating Right in the Renaissance” and “Food in Early Modern Europe,” said he has been thinking about establishing graduate coursework in food studies since New York University started its program.
“It took about three years,” he said, adding that the “timing was exactly right” for UOP’s multidisciplinary, two-year program, which focuses on how people have grown, prepared and profited from food through history and across cultures, and is geared toward working professionals.
Classes, designed to prepare students for fields including food history and advocacy, policymaking, sustainability and business, will be held in the evening at the school’s new state-of-the-art South of Market Street campus.
Tours of the facility, information about the program, and comments from professors Alice McLean and Erica Peters are on the agenda of an open house on Thursday.
IF YOU GO
Food Studies Mini Speaker Series and Open House
Where: University of the Pacific, 155 Fifth St., S.F. (entrance on Minna Street)
When: 5:30 to 7 p.m. May 28
Contact: (415) 400-8222, www.pacific.edu