posted March 28, 2006

Talk Will Focus on Food at 1931 Paris Exposition

The central role of international cuisine during the 1931 Paris International Colonial Exposition will be highlighted during an address at Hope College by Lauren Hinkle Janes on Monday, April 10, at 4 p.m. in the Maas Center conference room.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

The address, "Tasting the Empire: Food at the Paris Colonial Exposition of 1931," will be presented by Lauren Hinkle Janes, a 2004 Hope graduate who is in her second year pursuing a doctorate in modern European history at the University of California at Los Angeles.

In the spring of 1931, the International Colonial Exposition welcomed more than eight million visitors to the Bois de Vincennes, on the eastern edge of Paris. A 272-acre section of the woods surrounding Lac Daumesnil was transformed into a miniature version of the French Empire.

Elaborate pavilions in a variety of architectural styles were constructed and filled with displays about the geography, administration and economies of the various colonies in the French empire. Hundreds of persons from the colonies lived and performed in reconstructions of West African and Indochinese villages and North African urban neighborhoods.

Food and drink were everywhere at the Colonial Exposition, and while it was claimed that visitors "traveled around the world in a day," they ate and drank their way around the world as well. Visitors to the Exposition drank Arabic coffee in a Tunisian café, ate almond cakes and drank mint tea in the Moroccan souk, dined on chicken with peanuts and tropical fruits at the West African restaurant, sipped rum punch in the Guadeloupean pavilion, scrutinized Algerian wines, and bought Indochinese rice.

Janes's presentation, based on archival research in Paris and Aix-en-Provence, will explore the use of food in the colonial pavilions, the experience of dining in the restaurants and the cultural meaning of eating colonial foods during the Exposition.

Janes, who is originally from Indianapolis, Ind., majored in history, French and religion at Hope, and studied abroad in Toulouse, France.

Her address is being sponsored by the college's French cultural studies colloquium and department of history.

The Maas Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.