Wednesday 25 November 2009

Gourmet. not cutting the mustard

I'm siting here flicking through the pages of the final issue ever of the almost legendary Gourmet magazine - the epitomy of style and taste it has been setting trends since it's 1st issue back in 1941. We are lucky to have a run of all issues dating back to 1956. and it makes for interesting social and culinary commentary of the times - from the exotic arrival of gammon and pineapple, from the 1st dressed avocado to the last mango in paris. The surprising thing is you'd never guess it was over from looking at the latest/last issue. No indication, no looking back (not healthy anyway) no nostalgia, no emotional editorial goodbye, rather its all about preparations for thanksgiving. All very peculiar and Mary Celestle like.

And why is it closing it's pages after 50+ years? Money i would say, not making enough, not getting enough ads. Sad sign o the times.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Two "A"s or not two "A"s

Librarians like nothing better than the same word with different spellings (e.g. behavior - behaviour) when searching databases and ejournals. So imagine my unbridled excitment when told about my search for synaesthesia (see post from 9th November) could also be done using the America spelling of the word - without the 1st a. Happy days indeed.

Monday 16 November 2009

post script

Keith Floyd's (see post from 18th sept) autobiography "Stirred but not shaken" is the current BBC Radio 4 book of the week, every morning at 9:45

Monday 9 November 2009

Lexical Gustatory Synaesthesia

1 of my daughters has this interesting talent, if that's what you'd call it, : To her all names or numbers she hears has an associated food taste and smell. (For instance, pick a random name.... Sarah - to my daughter, smells of carrot and corriander soup and tastes of dried apricots. Another..., Christopher - smells of butter and tastes of tomatoes. By chance listening to weekend radio there was a programme about just such a phenomenon and as everything does, it has a name - Synaesthesia. The dictionary describes it as a mixing up in the brain of our 5 senses " a sensation produced in a part of the body by simulation of another part." Obviously i'd never heard of it before but got to thinking it would make an interesting subject to do a bit of research or a dissertation topic for a culinary arts, food science or even a hospitality student, from a number of different angels.
So just out of curiousity i went to Web of Science , did a search for synaesthesis - back came 303 references to journal articles. Then added in the word taste as well and that brings back 19. And curiously 1 of the 1st articles i look at describes work that Heston Blumenthal (no stranger to this blog) is doing about tasting words and how we could develop a new food language. Then off i go to Science Direct, try the same searches and it brings up 1220 and 145 respectively. And remember a lot of these are full text journal articles. And then to change the focus somewhat, did the same search inPsychInfo and that came back with 269 and 19 respectively for the same searches.
There - i've basically researched and written someones dissertation for them

Monday 2 November 2009

L'ange cuisine

Mairtin Mac Con Iomaire, a DIT lecturer in culinary arts has appeared before in this blog. That had to do with his top of the ratings cookery show Aingel sa Chistin. In Saturdays Irish Times he had a big spread with a photo as well, all to do with the award of his PhD., the 1st of its kind in Ireland on food history, or more precisely, on the development of French haute cuisine in Dublin. It took him 5 years to complete - i know - we were part of the process, and runs to 3 volumes which reflects the meticulous and thorough research that was put into it. Congratulations are on order. His degree will be conferred next Saturday. The idea now is to take the PhD and turn it into what would promise to be a very interesting and readable book We might try and see if we can get an exclusive comment from the proud chef, or maybe i'll have to go through his agent.
(photograph from the Irish Times)