Friday, January 23, 2009

Scholars talk about food

By Bee Wilson

Published: January 17 2009 2009

“There’s carrot blood everywhere!” exclaims a small round bespectacled scientist, chuckling to himself. His audience laughs, but nervously. The scientist is Dr Len Fisher and he is attempting to fashion a musical instrument out of a carrot – using nothing but an electric power drill, a bradawl, a plastic funnel, a mouthpiece and his wits. Fisher holds the carrot lengthwise in his bare hand and blithely starts drilling into it. “Jesus, take care!” a man mutters.

Anxiety turns to admiration when Fisher – unharmed – holds up his finished product: a perfect six-hole carrot “recorder”. He hands it to a jazz saxophonist who proceeds to play a mellow rendition of “Pop Goes the Weasel”.

At the Oxford Food Symposium such sights are not merely possible, but normal. The symposium, an annual event for the best part of three decades, is like no other conference. Here, in an Oxford college, you will find seminars on the properties of sheep fat, chemists making mayonnaise out of egg whites instead of yolks, and middle-aged men wearing edible hats – all in the name of food scholarship.

I want to go to this symposium. Read the rest of the article here

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