Gastronomica lines up food experts for Oxford Literary Festival

Monday, 01 March 2010


Oxford Gastronomica - the centre for the study of food, drink and culture at Oxford Brookes - has organised a number of events involving high profile speakers at this year's Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival.

Oxford Gastronomica - the centre for the study of food, drink and culture at Oxford Brookes University – has organised a number of events involving high profile foodies at this year's Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival.

Speakers at the nine Gastronomica events include Independent journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Sheila Dillon of BBC Radio 4, restaurateur Mark Hix, food writer Tom Parker Bowles and Oxford Brookes Vice-Chancellor Professor Janet Beer.

The 2010 Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival runs from Saturday 20th March to Sunday 28th March offering about 250 talks, debates and readings as well as literary lunches and dinners at venues in the centre of Oxford including the Bodleian Library, the Sheldonian Theatre, Christ Church and Corpus Christi colleges and other prestigious venues.

Don Sloan, who is head of the Department of Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Management at Oxford Brookes and the founder of Oxford Gastronomica, was approached by the organisers to arrange a world-class programme examining our relationship with food.

Some of the talks include The Rise and Rise of British Food, Food and the City, Food as Culture, Food as Memoir and Lifestyle or Bust.

'There's universal appeal when it comes to matters of food because it's something we all relate to,' explains Don.

'Food touches so many aspects of our lives. It's not something that simply sustains us physically. It speaks very powerfully who we are, the culture we belong to, how we relate to others and aspects of behaviour.

'What I'm interested in and what we try to do through Oxford Gastronomica is examine the nature of our relationship with food and drink.'

In a world that's much more transient, food is an incredibly powerful way of giving us a sense of belonging. Communities that are dispersed around the world, for example, use food to remind them of their cultural origins.

Claudia Roden, an expert on Middle Eastern cookery, is giving a talk on Food and the Diaspora: 'Yes she writes cookbooks but they are so much more than cookbooks,' says Don. 'She may present a recipe but she also presents a cultural context for that recipe.'

Don has chosen speakers who he feels will be particularly engaging and who will appeal to a wide audience. 'They are thinking foodies, literary figures, successful journalists, social commentators – all with serious points to make about society's relationship with food and drink.'

For more details, visit the Oxford Gastronomica website.