noah’s pudding: cultural exchange and the dialogue society

Noah's pudding picThis impact project promoted transcultural exchange through food by drawing on the traditions of cosmopolitanism in the former Ottoman Empire. In distributing free ‘Noah’s Puddings’ and offering teachings and literature about the transcultural significance of the food, our goal was to stimulate dialogues on transcultural exchange and also to proliferate transcultural dialogue, in the participants and through them to further beneficiaries.

Noah’s Pudding is a transcultural and interfaith food. A traditional Eastern Anatolian dessert (made of dried fruits, grains and nuts), asure forms part of Middle Eastern cooking and can be also found in various diasporic communities.  Transcribed as ashure in Arabic, with a Hebrew etymology of asor (atonement), among Armenians it is called Anoushabour (literally translated as sweet soup) and is eaten symbolically at midnight on New Year’s Day in a ritual to sweeten the forthcoming year.  Noah’s Pudding derives from a legend that when Noah finally found land after the Flood, in the Araxes valley on the slopes of Mount Ararat, he celebrated with a pudding created from the few remaining ingredients in the Ark.

Small cups of free puddings were distributed along with a keepsake postcard. The postcard explained on one side explained the interfaith and transcultural significance and origins of Noah’s Pudding. On the reverse a recipe encouraged recipients to make the puddings themselves for sharing in turn, in the tradition of Asure, with their neighbours, friends, family or student/peer/work colleagues.

On 8 May 2014, Asure/Noah’s Pudding events took place at 3 venues across Leeds, with venues chosen to target different educational levels and the diverse general public of Leeds.

1. Morning – City of Leeds School

Choreographed by impact project interns Rosie Collington and Joe Gilmour-Rees, a performative ‘map’ exercise asked students to position themselves in relation to a place in the world. Students worked with the team in small groups to produce their own recipe cards of a food associated with that place and, following discussion, answered questions about the transcultural value of food. Noah’s Pudding food and materials provided the stimulus for students’ work.

See the reflection on the school impact event for a overview of the day from our project interns.

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2. Lunchtime –  Woodhouse Lane, LS2.

Targeting hungry students and passersby and engaging in discussion about transculturalism.

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3. Evening – 5.00-6.00 pm School of English, University of Leeds, 8 Cavendish Road, Douglas Jefferson Room

Speakers included:
Jay Prosser (University of Leeds): on Jewish, Muslim and Christian coexistence in the Ottoman Empire
Ismail Mesut Sezgin (Dialogue Society): on Noah’s Pudding and the work of the Dialogue Society charity
Henghameh Saroukhani (University of Leeds): on traditions of cosmopolitanism and conviviality

For the Dialogue Society page for this event, click here.

Speakers: Henghameh Saroukhani, Jay Prosser, Ismail Mezut Sezgin

Speakers (left): Henghameh Saroukhani, Jay Prosser, Ismail Mezut Sezgin


‘It is always good to be reminded what Christians, Muslims and Jews have in common. I love the idea of food being the basis of intercultural exchange’

‘made me rethink modes of intercultural dialogue’

‘this evening was really an eye-opening experience for me’

‘I really like the analogy of Ashure being like a cosmopolitan society, with all the tastes and ingredients still separate and distinct, but all working together’

‘great bringing together of different groups/peoples/ideas – please continue!’



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