Emily Thomas explores how food can help us navigate through the darkest of times - the days, weeks, and even years following the death of someone we loved. In times of loss, should we use food to remember the dead or to reconnect with them? A neurologist explains the science behind grief and appetite, and people who've been recently bereaved talk about the foods and eating rituals that have helped them through it.
This programme was first broadcast in September 2018, and has since been shortlisted for a James Beard Award.
(Photo: A raw onion. Credit: Getty Images)
The pot washers
Do you know who’s washing your dishes?
Emily Thomas talks to pot washers from around the world, about what they love and loathe about life at the sink.
A kitchen can’t survive without the pot washer, yet we rarely give them a second thought, lavishing all our attention instead on the chefs. But maybe we should. Being a pot washer, dishwasher or kitchen porter as it’s variably known, can be the first rung on the restaurant ladder, and many a great chef started out with a scourer in hand. But the job also attracts those who have very limited opportunities in life, and this means they may be more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
(Photo: Man scrubbing a kitchen sink. Credit: BBC/ Getty Images)
An inspector calls
Restaurateurs with guns, chefs wielding knives, and severed heads in bin bags. Life as a food inspector is a lot more fraught than you might think.
Emily Thomas meets three food safety officers from around the globe who reveal what it’s like to be one of the most feared people in the industry.
They have the power to close a restaurant. Some can even make arrests. No wonder they’ve got some stories that seem to belong more in a mafia film than a food show. And the danger doesn’t end there. It’s not just their lives at risk – but yours too. We hear about some of the unsavoury things that happen to our food behind kitchen doors - and the sneaky tactics used to conceal them.
(Photo: A rat peers into a cup. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)
How to tell a food story
What happens when food meets fiction? In this programme from the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival, presenter Emily Thomas is joined by a panel of guests and an audience to find out how poems, plays and novels can help us better understand our food, and also how food can be used as a narrative device.
Poet and novelist Ben Okri, farmer and author Suzanna Crampton, and playwright and former script-writer for BBC radio drama The Archers, Graham Harvey, share some of their work. How do they balance food, fact and fiction in a world awash with misinformation?
This is a shorter version of the episode 'How to tell a food story' broadcast on 31 March 2019.
(Picture composite: Ben Okri, Suzanna Crampton and Graham Harvey. Credit: Roberto Ricciuti, Getty Images, Martha Faye and BBC)
There are trillions of bacteria living in our guts and there's growing evidence that they can have a major impact on our mental well-being. So could we soon see a food supplement that can treat depression?
The science behind this so-called gut-brain axis and whether we can manipulate it isn't yet conclusive, but there are plenty of believers. We speak to a woman who says her irritable bowel syndrome and anxiety disappeared after she started taking kefir, a fermented milk drink. She was so convinced by its impact that she now runs a south London business making and selling it.
There are already food supplements out there targeting anxiety and depression, but are they getting ahead of the science? We speak to one of the major probiotics manufacturers and hear from a leading scientist who says unproven product claims could be dangerous for mental health patients and that they shouldn't be seen as a silver bullet.
Plus, how human are we really? We find out just how many strings our microbes are pulling.
(Image: Head outline with food representing the brain. Credit: Getty Images)