August 12, 2011
Experimental epicures Rachel Edwards-Stuart and Jessica Chambers took us on a whistlestop tour of the history of space food – eating in orbit is even harder than it sounds. At the Secret Garden Party 2011, we sampled interstellar ice cream, dehydrated steak and zero gravity cake.
Full program here.
September 2, 2010
Carefully carving through the surface of the shiny, quivering pink cortex with his scalpel, neuroscientist Guy Billings traced out a small area of the marvellous human cerebrum. “This,” he said, “is Broca’s area – crucial for the ability to produce language. People who have suffered damage to this region have lost the ability to speak.” The crowd peered in for a closer look.
“Let’s just cut that out then,” said Guy, and plopping the pink shiny piece onto a plate, he handed it out with a shiny pink spoon. It was instantly devoured (and declared delicious).
July 6, 2010
Jelly brains and cucumber spaghetti were on the menu last Sunday when we pitched up at London’s Borough Market to dish out mind-enhancing portions of science to all comers.
Organized as part of the London Festival of Architecture, the day’s event brought together makers of musical vegetables, a range of architectural takes on the allotment, cute baby farm animals, and some very tasty pork rolls (shamefully, I ate mine in front of the piglets).
For starters we served up a sensory feast that played with colour, aroma and sound to distort and confuse our diners, but also – we hope – reveal to them the role of the different senses in flavour perception. Anne-Sylvie Christinel and Hayzell van der Lowe from the University of Oxford were on hand to encourage diners to sniff and taste all manner of odd titbits, charmingly presented in petri dishes and test tubes.
Anne-Sylvie and Hayzell also brought along a rubber tongue, which they stroked with a cotton bud in a rather disturbing effort to conjure up an illusion akin to the famous rubber hand trick.
Our main course saw food scientists Becki Taylor and Rachel Edwards-Stuart explore the genetics of flavour perception with a supertaster test, before handing round the miracle berry pills – they’re legal, honest! Dissolved slowly on the tongue, these magical tablets take you on two-hour ‘taste trip’, transforming puckeringly sour flavours – limes, lemons, vinegar, etc – into sweet, moreish delights.
We then dined on cucumber spaghetti prepared courtesy of top chef David Fuller and molecular gastronomy kit makers Cream Supplies, before sampling some rather worse-for-wear fruit jellies courtesy of yours truly. Hot summer’s day + train journey + gelatine = a sticky mess. Lesson learned.
And then there was dessert. Just look at that pud! Jelly brains, flavoured with raspberry, vanilla and panacotta, topped off with a fantastic bite-by-bite guide to neuroanatomy from brain expert Zarinah Agnew. And just as people’s appetites began to wane, in stepped Tony Goldstone to tell us how our brains control desire, reward and addiction…
So, all in all, a rather fun bit of alfresco dining. Not overcooked at all, unlike my puns. Look out for further flavour feasts and jelly brains at Lovebox, SGP and Green Man throughout the summer…