Edinburgh International Science Festival: On a Plate – the food
Science and food have long enjoyed a close relationship, from Ivan Pavlov breaking from his important work of starving dogs to knock up a quick meringue-based desert, to fast-food giants using the power of science to turn mysterious pink goo into cheeseburgers. This year's Science Festival line-up sadly omits both baking and industrial sandwich production, but still has plenty to offer for those of you who like your food with a scientific bent.
Calories and Corsets kicks things off to remind everyone that our obsession with eating right isn't actually our obsession at all. Turns out that the Greeks and Romans were heavily into their crash dieting as well, as historian Louise Foxcroft and Alex Renton, food writer at The Times, will tell you. Learn about how and why we started caring about what we eat, and whether the Roman Empire would have ended up differently had they discovered Atkins. Mon 2 Apr, 8pm, Ghillie Dhu, £10 (£8).
Half-past-eight on a Saturday morning is a bit of an ask for anyone, but The Forager's Breakfast should be well worth setting the alarm for. Foraging expert Miles Irving and 'professional friend of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall' John Wright know a fair bit about finding wild food, and they'll lead you around the Royal Botanic Gardens to hunt out some of the nicer stuff, as well as pointing out how to make the best use of the food growing around you. That's followed by a wild food breakfast back in the Gardens' restaurant accompanied by a talk that should keep your body from reminding you of the time. Sat 7 Apr, 8.30am, Royal Botanic Garden, £16.
“Of life’s many joys, the pleasure of the table and the delights of the boudoir are without question what make life worth living,” says author Mark Douglas Hill. Quite. He's joined by nutrition scientist Dr Alexandra Johnstone (in Aphrodisiac Canape and Cocktails Reception: Scientist at Your Table, £20) to illuminate us on the wide world of aphrodisiacs over the course of an evening of cocktails and canapes. Learn whether they work or not, how they were discovered, and if the magical properties of asparagus have been greatly overstated. Or understated. Sun 8 Apr, 7pm, Royal Botanic Garden.
Whisky Wisdom does what it says in the title, and there's few people that know more about the national drink that Glenmorangie's Head of Whisky Creation (best job title ever) Dr Bill Lumsden. He'll lead you through the world of whisky, from the making to the tasting and, of course, the talking. Learn the correct faces to pull and strained comparisons to make over tastings of a range of whiskies. Tue 11Apr, 5.30pm, The Jam House, £15 (£12).
Sensory Dining may sound like the name of a hip new band you should know about, but its actually the highlight of the Science Festival's food programme. Comedian and kids' TV science expert Steve Mould hosts a five-course meal designed to bombard your senses, in the nicest possible way. With the help of a linguist, a 'scent technician', and two professors, Steve will present an array of flavours, sights, odours and textures to ensure 'you’ll never look at dinner the same way again.' Unsure whether that's a threat or a promise? As with all scientific discoveries, there's only one way to find out. Tue 10 Apr, 8pm, The Jam House, £35.