Food & Gastronomy

Listening to Vegetables

Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery Synopsis: In this talk I will explore the strange world of vegetable acoustics, from the sounds that tell us how fresh a vegetable is when we tap it to the use of vegetables as musical instruments. The talk will cover: The screams,...

Vegetable Acoustics and the Carrot Clarinet

Oxford A talk which I gave at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, and which attracted some media attention. The talk was filmed and will form part of a forthcoming BBC4 TV series on the life and work of symposium founder Alan Davidson. An article featuring the...

All in the Best Possible Taste – A Talk with Tastings

A talk delivered to the local branch of the Society for Chemical Industry at the University of Cambridge This entertaining lecture (which I am often asked to repeat at other venues) introduced some surprising facts about food and flavour, such as that food...

A Scientific Amuse-Gueule

Book Review: Kitchen Mysteries by Hervé This Times Higher Education Supplement This's new book is an exuberant paean for the role of science in cooking. The reader who is content to be swept along in a torrent of prose will be rewarded by many striking images, such as...

Scientists and Food – Moral, Immoral or Amoral?

Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, September 2007 Scientists have had a lot to do with food over the centuries. Their role goes back at least to the Romans, and to the discovery of some scientifically-minded but misguided genius that wine tasted sweeter when drunk...

TV Presenter: Doughnut Dunking

"Madlabs", National Geographic Television A very interesting programme where I dip a giant biscuit in a bucket of tea, pull people in off the street to test the scientific approach to dunking in an Australian cafe, and measure the strength of biscuits by piling apples...

The Science of Toffee Apples

Royal Institution, London A talk geared for families, with demonstrations and tastings, on the science behind the lowly toffee apple - not to mention the toffee-coated sausage and the toffee banana!

Ideal Toast

Daily Mail The first piece of toast that I ever ate was also the most perfect. There were no electric toasters in those days; certainly not in the Australian bush where my father was preparing a barbecue for the family. While the fire was dying down to a glowing layer...

The Best Way to Stir Porridge

Daily Express It’s amazing how just about any everyday activity has a scientific angle. Even stirring porridge can be turned into a scientific problem, as I found when I investigated the properties of the mysterious “spurtle” that is used to stir porridge in Scotland....

Biscuit Dunking Poetry

I even received the attention of poets. One of their poems has even appeared in an anthology. My favourite, though, was this one from a member of London’s Garrick Club, with the immortal couplet: “Some men delight in tits and bums, But I’m absorbed by biscuit crumbs”...

How Does a Scientist Boil an Egg?

Daily Mail A scientist boils an egg in the same way that James Bond did in "From Russia With Love". Bond demanded that his eggs should be boiled for exactly three and one-third minutes, which is just the time that comes out of the scientific equation for egg boiling:...

The Science of Parties

New Scientist Mathematician Rob Eastaway and physicist Len Fisher reveal their scientific approach to making a party go with a bang. A good party begins with congestion, evolves through chaos, continues with chat, and ends with cheers. Science can help to smooth the...

How to Dunk a Doughnut: The Science of Everyday Life

Millenium Lecture, University of Bath Len Fisher, an Honorary Research Fellow in the Physics Department at Bristol University, has drawn wide-spread media attention in recent years for his unusual applications of science to everyday activities such as biscuit dunking,...

Memories of Oxford Food Symposia

“Memories of Oxford Food Symposia” - how does one disentangle them? Even though I have only attended two symposia, it feels like twenty because of the richness of the environment, both in terms of ideas and in terms of people. Others will have memories of ideas shared...

Summer Drinks

Daily Mail The Royal Society of Chemistry, of which I am proud to be a member, has recently introduced scientific guidelines for making the perfect cup of tea with which to while away this long, hot summer. Their research results have prompted me to wonder whether...

Great Shakes

Heston Blumenthal, The Guardian, 26 October, 2002 Kir Royale jelly This is interesting because it manages to keep the bubbles in the jelly itself. My friend, the chemist Len Fisher, devised the clever technique of preserving the bubbles more than in a regular...

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