I am a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London, where I recently completed the PhD I started with the London Consortium. I am currently researching and writing about food and utopias, in particular food for space travel, but my food-related interests are wide and often historical, so I am also working on a project with the Foundling Museum, London, on Foundling food from 1740-1960. I enjoy practical experimentation (otherwise known as recipe reading and cookery) alongside my research, which is why I decided to start this blog as a way of thinking aloud about some of my adventures with food.
When I left my last full-time job in the City of London in 2009 I set up a consultancy to manage my new and varied working life. I named it after a culinary and medicinal plant called Silphium, prized by the ancients and now extinct. Silphium, which only exists in images on ancient Cyrene (Libyan) coins and in Roman texts, represents for me all that is tantalising about the history of food. We can try to imagine what silphium was like, and we’ll never be quite sure, but we (or at least I) don’t stop wondering or wanting to find out. Food is so much in the present – experienced through the senses, absorbed into every human being – that it must be an equally important part of the past. I believe that thinking about its history, or using food as ‘an object to think with’, can tell us a huge amount about culture, events, taste and daily life. So, my work is all about the fun of the chase for meaning as it relates to the history and culture of food.
This site, Silphium Food, is the place where I share all of my food-related thoughts – recipes, experiments, history, questions and ideas. Do get in touch with me to tell me what you think.
If you are looking for something more serious, or are interested in commissioning some research work from me, please visit my company site, Silphium Consulting.