I was very disappointed by the latest Thinking Allowed. Paul Freedman explained why, as his new book claims, Food Matters, but Laurie Taylor gave the distinguished perfesser a very gentle ride. Freedman said that academe denigrates and dismisses research into food, which it surely does. He then repeated the story that quinoa was a staple food in the high Andes and that export to what he called “the yoga-focussed classes” means that quinoa is now “way too expensive for people to afford in Peru”. Both claims fall to a modicum of research. Maybe that’s why academe is wary of Freedman’s food studies?

The second guest on the programme, Joy Fraser, was much more acceptable, maybe because I haven’t researched haggis and the Scottish diet as much as she has. That the English simultaneously managed to look down on the French diet as too luxurious and the Scottish diet as too niggardly seems par for the course. And that the Scots reclaimed the haggis as a symbol of thrift and good economy is encouraging. I rather like haggis. They’re trying the same thing with the deep-fried Mars bar, as a tourist attraction. I doubt I will ever give myself the opportunity to decide whether I would like that. Too risky.

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