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As in China, in the United States and European countries, certain foods are associated with holidays, but there is not the same round of observances throughout the year that can compare with dumplings or niangao for New Year or yuanxiao for the Lantern Festival. Christmas is a time of feasting, but what is consumed varies. A lot of Christmas foods are archaic, that is they are foods created from historical memory rather than things people consume on other special occasions. Prepare for the holiday season together as Paul Freedman, Chester D. Tripp Professor of History at Yale, shares about the history of Christmas foods and holiday feasting.


  • Paul Freedman (Chester D. Tripp Professor of History at Yale University)

    Paul Freedman

    Chester D. Tripp Professor of History at Yale University

    Paul Freedman is professor of history at Yale University, where he has taught since 1997 and has served as Chair of the History Department. His primary interests are in the field of medieval European history and the history of food and cuisine, about which he has produced many related books and articles.

    In 2007, Freedman edited Food: The History of Taste, which won a prize from the International Association of Culinary Professionals and has been translated into ten languages. This began a series of studies about the role of food in shaping cultures and historical trends. Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination (2008) looks at the desire for spices in the Middle Ages and how it led to European exploration and conquest.

    Freedman is also the author of Ten Restaurants that Changed America (2016), a way of looking at US food history through ten examples, including Chinese and Italian cuisines adapted to American tastes.His American Cuisine: How It Got This Way was published in October 2019, and his most recent book, Why Food Matters (2021) was published by Yale University Press.

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