FOOD lovers were in for a special treat yesterday as writer Bee Wilson spoke about how we cook and eat.
Crowds gathered to listen to the historian and prize-winning food columnist, who made her third visit to the Swindon Festival of Literature to promote her latest book, Consider the Fork.
In an interactive and informal session, Bee talked about the history of various implements around the world and how our natural resources not only affect these implements but also our cuisine and our culture.
Bee, who also visited the town at previous festivals to discuss her books The Hive and Swindled, was delighted to be back in Swindon.
She said: “I am really happy to be back here, it is the third time I have come to the Swindon Festival of Literature and it is one of my favourite festivals.
“Matt is a brilliant Festival Director and I love going to see Lower Shaw Farm and seeing what is going on down there.
“I really like the format of this event because whereas normally I would just stand up and talk about the book this time it was more like a conversation and it’s more interactive.”
Bee is a former research fellow in the history of ideas at St John’s College Cambridge, but moved out of academia to focus on her food writing.
Her latest book was inspired after meeting an editor at Penguin.
Bee said: “I first knew I wanted to be a food writer when I had a copy of The Penguin Cookery Book by Bee Nilson, and I imagined the name to be ‘Bee Wilson’. Since then the thought of having my name on a Penguin paperback is such a thrill.
“I met with an editor just to talk about some ideas for a new book and I suggested a few and she just kept saying no, or that’s not a book that’s a long article. And then asked what about something on kitchen implements. And at first I wasn’t that interested because I think there has been a lot done on the history of kitchens, and all I could think it would be is Downton Abbey. “But then I thought about questions like how did we cope before we had fridges or microwaves, and that really wasn’t very long ago. And then I thought that actually this is a fascinating subject, and I was surprised that I hadn’t thought about it.”
Half of the talk was dedicated to a conversation prompted by festival director Matt Holland followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
Questions ranged from why there are not more people in the UK who enjoy using a pressure cooker to what unused culinary implements do people collect.