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INFINITELY MORE PALATABLE THAN FORESKINS - MAR 30 - 1.29PM

Charles Spence, Gastrophysics

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…

FT Weekend Title partner BBC World Service International radio partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner University of Oxford New College Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner Marlene Hauser Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore David Isaac Carole and John Allen Lucian Hudson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Miles Young Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture George Warren Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture John Roberts Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine Exeter College Exeter College Trinity College Trinity College Worcester College Worcester College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College: Festival college partner. Eastgate Hotel Eastgate Hotel, a festival hotel The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel Critchleys Accountants to the festival Project People Foodbuy European Union Delegation of the European Union to the United Kingdom T S Eliot Foundation Alan Squire Publishing Sponsor of American novelists and poets Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Said Business School Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Floris of London City Audio Visual Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Chamberlain Evans Estate agents Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence Frescobaldi Toscana Wines of Tuscany Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Seacourt Printers Festival printers Compassion in World Farming The Wild Geese Nicholas Hunter Ltd James Currey Society Hattus Books Hattus Books La Cave Musik Pusey House Cervantes Institute, London Confucius Institute Literature Ireland

FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival sponsors, donors & partners

FT Weekend Title partner BBC World Service International radio partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner University of Oxford New College Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner Marlene Hauser Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore David Isaac Carole and John Allen Lucian Hudson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Miles Young Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture George Warren Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture John Roberts Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine Exeter College Exeter College Trinity College Trinity College Worcester College Worcester College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College: Festival college partner. Eastgate Hotel Eastgate Hotel, a festival hotel The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel Critchleys Accountants to the festival Project People Foodbuy European Union Delegation of the European Union to the United Kingdom T S Eliot Foundation Alan Squire Publishing Sponsor of American novelists and poets Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Said Business School Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Floris of London City Audio Visual Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Chamberlain Evans Estate agents Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence Frescobaldi Toscana Wines of Tuscany Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Seacourt Printers Festival printers Compassion in World Farming The Wild Geese Nicholas Hunter Ltd James Currey Society Hattus Books Hattus Books La Cave Musik Pusey House Cervantes Institute, London Confucius Institute Literature Ireland