Now this was more like it…
A talk on food that sounded - and was - irresistibly appetising.
Yesterday I had intended to attend a talk by Jeremiah Tower, an American celebrity chef who’s talk was entitled “Eating Desire: Our Appetite for the Erotic and Other Desires”.
Now, with a title like that who wouldn’t queue in a long, dirty raincoat with sweating palms and cotton-mouth and mumble about “fluids” and “soft, gooey textures”?
EXCEPT that is until you read the small print in the Festival’s brochure - ‘Tower looks at the aphrodisiac, from the well known oyster to the lesser known experiences of Agnes Blannbekin (1244-1315), who was known for her visions of Christ and for the pleasure she gained from eating…foreskins”.
No great surprise then that I ultimately declined.
Which is why today I had my fingers crossed about Charles Spence’s talk: “Gastrophysics: The Science of Dining From Restaurant Music to Sonic Crisps” which sounded, even via its small print, like an event unlikely to trigger my gag reflex.
And I was right.
In fact, more than right. Indeed, it turned out to be a crowd-pleaser of thrilling and mouth-watering proportions that was every bit as two-ring circus as it was educational.
Mr Spence is clearly a man who doesn’t believe in breathing since in his first five minutes and 40,000-word oratory, I don’t believe he inhaled once. Like a runaway train stuffed with delicious foodie treats.
In short, his presentation centred on his belief that the most important organ of the enthusiastic diner is their mind, not their tongue.
After all, as he pointed out: ‘When you eat it’s your mind that’s doing all the work, providing the senses, the mood, and everything else. And remember as well, 75 per cent of what you taste is provided by its smell”.
His anecdotes about why drinking plonk in some Mediterranean climate is always more enjoyable than bringing a bottle home and opening it on your patio were priceless. As was his machine fire enthusiasm.
A perfect amuse bouche before lunch…