Nose Dive with Harold McGee
What is smell? How does it work? And why is it a key component in taste? Harold McGee, the leading expert on the science of food and cooking, has spent a decade exploring these questions for his new book, Nose Dive: A Field Guide to the World’s Smells. Join him on an adventure across four billion years, from the sulphurous early Earth to the fruit-filled Tian Shan mountain range north of the Himalayas and back.
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In this special event to launch the 2021 Food Season, Harold talks about our most overlooked sense to food-writer Tara Wigley, whose work as collaborator on several Ottolenghi cookbooks celebrates her appreciation of all our senses when it comes to enjoying food. Introduced with a tribute by chef Heston Blumenthal, who has credited McGee’s first book, On Food and Cooking, as a crucial influence on his own unconventional approach in the kitchen.
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Harold McGee studied at Caltech and Yale, and since 1980 has been writing about the science of food and cooking. He’s the author of the award-winning book On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, a visiting lecturer in Harvard University’s course “From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science” and a former columnist for The New York Times. He’s been named food writer of the year by Bon Appétit magazine and to the TIME 100, an annual list of the world’s most influential people. McGee’s new book, Nose Dive: A Field Guide to the World’s Smells, began as a project about the flavours of food and drink, but expanded over the course of a decade to encompass the smells of the material world at large, which flavours often echo. Smells are triggered by molecular bits of that world, and Nose Dive explores their presence in interstellar space and the early Earth, in forests and meadows, sea coasts and cities, in and on our own bodies, and finally their contribution to incense and perfumes, food and wine and spirits.
Tara Wigley worked in publishing for the best part of a decade before switching to food and writing in 2010. She trained at the Ballymaloe cookery school in Ireland, began to work with Yotam Ottolenghi in 2011, and for the first year tested recipes with Yotam in his West London flat before taking on the role of writing collaborator. Tara was very involved with the creation of Plenty More and is credited on the title page with the writing of Nopi: The Cookbook, Sweet, and the re-launched edition of Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. She is the co-author with Yotam Ottolenghi of Simple and with Sami Tamimi of Falastin, which has been shortlisted at the André Simon Awards.