Food & Gastronomy

Idiots’ Guide to Vegetables

Commissioned by the Guardian a while ago, but then spiked on the basis that it was too "sciencey" [sic]. I wonder what else they expected from a scientist? At any rate, here is my guide to the quirkier side of vegetables (from fresh and juicy to saggy and sorry) for a...

125. The Chinese tea ceremony

The Chinese New Year, which began this year on January 28th, is a big deal in Sydney, which has a large and vibrant Chinese community, some of whose families go back to the gold rush days of the 1850s. As part of the celebrations, the Art Gallery of New South Wales...

Food books for food enthusiasts

Do you have a passion for food and cooking? Do you want access and guidance on the best in culinary literature? Former molecular biologist Matt Cockerill has an answer, in the form of a new web-based project called 1000 Cookbooks (www.1000cookbooks.com). As a start,...

Brain cutlets, anyone?

In celebration of the “offal” theme at the 2016 Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, here is the wonderful brain cutlet story from Lawrence Durrell’s Prospero’s Cell, a semi-fictional diary of his time on Corfu. The Count is “Count D” (probably an invented character,...

Food and Desire

Here are the talk notes and accompanying Powerpoint Slides for the keynote talk that I gave on "Food and Desire" at the second Biennial Dublin Gastronomy Symposium (DGS) that (3-4 June 2014, Dublin Institute of Technology). It was a wonderful meeting, full of food and...

101. Tacit knowledge and the replication of results.

One thing that seldom gets talked about in the world of science is the notion of tacit knowledge – that is, know-how that is only, and sometimes can only, be passed on through direct experience. A recent example was described in the journal Nature (Vol. 514, pp. 139 –...

The true place of science in gastronomy

My contribution to a panel discussion at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, Sunday July 5th, 2015. We don’t need to understand science to enjoy our food, but quite often we need science to provide us with food that we can enjoy, and understanding the science...

How To Eat Your Mummy

I am a regular speaker at the annual Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, where famous food writers, food historians, and other food enthusiasts share their ideas and experiences in the cloistered dignity of St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. Well, it would be...

Food Museums: An Eclectic List

I love museums. They link our past, present and future, reminding us of what was, helping us to understand what is, and providing a foundation for what is to come. Museums take many forms, and few people know about one of those forms - the food museum. So to help you...

Tasting and the brain

This post also appears on the Oxford Symposium for Food and Cookery blog A recent paper in Nature (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature13873.html) tells us for the first time how taste sensations on the tongue are transmitted to the brain. It...

Some thoughts on the importance of good food and good drink

From Douglas Adams in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: ‘... you know, Beeblebrox. You want to meet the man who rules the Universe.’ ‘Can he cook?’ asked Zaphod. On reflection he added: ‘I doubt if he can. If he could cook a good meal he wouldn’t worry about...

77. A tale of two Watsons

There is a new cookbook out: Cognitive Cooking with chef Watson. The underlying idea is that IBM’s supercomputer “Watson” has looked at the individual flavour compounds in different foods, and created new dishes by matching up the foods that have flavour components in...

How much wine can you get into a bra?

Some years ago I presented a radio programme for BBC Radio 4 on the design of the perfect sports bra. One of our problems in preparing the programme was to work out the appropriate cup dimensions, which I was doing surreptitiously while talking to my producer by...

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