The Edinburgh Fringe is back, and it’s even denser and more impenetrable than ever. But don’t run off screaming in a panic, for we’ve sifted through the eight million pages of the Fringe programme to bring you a selection of the best food-based events
Let’s start with a piece of musical theatre about chicken, because it’s August in Edinburgh so why not. Nando's and Nandon'ts is a comedy about a couple who meet in a chicken restaurant, and it features singing, dancing, and not one but two ukuleles. If that wasn’t Fringe enough for you, this particular production takes place in a Princes Street mobile phone shop. That’s a musical comedy about Nando’s, in a phone shop. We may have reached ‘peak Fringe’ within the first paragraph; this does not bode well. 1-10 Aug, 12.30pm. Phones 4U, 16 Princes St, £Free.
With that in mind, let’s move straight to the discussions about eating genetically-fiddled meat. Would you eat a cow with five faces, or a pig that’s just one giant rasher of bacon with hooves? Much more serious versions of those questions will be discussed by Professors Helen Sang and Bruce Whitelaw in their talk on the pros and cons of GM Food, We'd Eat GM Meat: Would You? They'll also look at the ongoing research to make sure we don’t, as a species, run out of animals to chow down on. 24 Aug, 3.40pm. The Stand in the Square, St Andrew Sq, £5.
Another year at the Fringe brings another star of a TV cooking show hoping to entertain a jaded, hungover crowd of media types and burnt-out civilians with a display of precision baking. Luckily for Glenn Cosby (off of the Great British Bake-Off) he is actually an engaging character who can make good-looking bakes, and when the centrepiece of your show is handing out delicious food to an audience that’s been living off takeaway crepes and Paracetamol you’re on to a winner. Stand-ups, take note – audiences love cake. 1-25 Aug (not 11), 4pm. Assembly Roxy, 2 Roxburgh Pl, £12-14.
Next, Dinner is Swerved, a show which in last year’s preview we described as “a dining experience involving avant-garde food and some sort of theatre/comedy element that’s explained entirely through sentence fragments.” Having checked through the reviews it seems we were basically right, but it couldn’t hurt to give these guys another shot. This year’s blurb: “Edible shrubs. Taste transfiguration. Dream rambles. Interactive play. Audible dishes.” Sounds intriguing. Needs commas. Send help. 8-24 Aug (not 12 or 19), 11.30pm. C Nova, India Buildings, Victoria St, £17.50-19.50.
Back to reality, and to the Boxsmall outdoor market at Festival Square. A series of bijou sheds in the middle of a patch of Soviet-esque concrete doesn’t sound too hopeful, but fill them with food and tiny little bars and things start to look a bit more promising. Expect to see the place packed with punch-drunk Traverse-goers fresh from some serious early-afternoon theatre and office types desperately trying to sneak in some Fringe on their lunch break. Festival Sq, daily.
Now we’re at the business end of this Fringe malarkey, kicking off with a genteel, medium-brow opportunity to drink beer and eat burgers. The champagne bar in the Signet Library plays host to a series of ‘meet the brewer and ask him awkward questions’ chats with the folks from Knops Brewery throughout August, giving you the chance to engage in the rituals of the rich and lovely (enjoying outrageously nice surroundings) while still sticking to your roots (worrying about dribbling on yourself). 4, 11, 18 Aug, 7pm. Pommery Champagne Cafe Bar, Parliament Sq, £25.
If you don’t like beer and big buildings, why not try gin and big words? A Genteel Tipple Through Gin in Literature connects the dots between great works of fiction and the G&T, highlighting some of the writers who ‘were inspired’ by gin. There are of course cocktails involved in this one, so be ready to have a great idea or two. Take a pen and paper. 10 Aug, 8.30pm. Hendrick's Carnival of Knowledge, 1 Royal Circus, £12.
And finally, alcohol and history. A dangerous mix at the best of times, but the returning stars of The Thinking Drinkers' Guide have us covered. Their latest show on the Legends of Liquor takes a tour through some of history and pop culture’s top boozers, and like all good tours you’ll stop off every so often for some light refreshment. The Fringe does get bigger every year, but it’s good to know that the important things – like the comedy/history shows with lots of free drinks – stay pretty much the same. 1-25 Aug (not 11), 3.45pm. The Famous Spiegeltent, St Andrew Sq, £11.