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Festival Flavours: Food at Being Human Festival 2023

This year’s Being Human Festival is serving up a treat for the taste buds at a variety of food-focused events across the UK.

This year's festival features a tantalising spread of workshops, discussions and hands-on activities that are exploring the significance of food in all its forms. 

From historic recipes and celebrity chefs, to gut bacteria and cheese-tossing protesters, we take a look at some of the mouth-watering events taking place across the UK, from 9 – 18 November. 


We begin in the kitchen, where several Being Human events are uncovering old recipes and ancient ingredients.  

At Tamworth Castle, a series of interactive workshops based on early recipes on 18 November will introduce visitors to the weird and wonderful ingredients found in early modern recipe books.  

In Margate, the recipes of Victorian celebrity and novelist Henrietta Stannard were put to the test at a hands-on cooking workshop on 14 November. 

Meanwhile, the University of Cambridge heads across the Atlantic to discover the history and heritage of Aztec food in Mexico on 18 November. The material traditions associated with amaranth plants, seeds and seed dough are still inextricably linked to the dynamic ethnic and religious makeup of Mexico today. 


The proof of the pudding is in the eating – and this year’s festival certainly doesn’t disappoint on that score!   

The Hungry Human project in Essex is presenting a range of events that are dedicated to food and how what we eat helps us understand who we are.  

Last weekend, The Tasting Menu in Colchester presented a curated experience of food, poetry and performances from local musicians. Also last week, The Rhyme and Reason of Recipes: Sniff-and-Share-History-Workshop dug into the flavour profiles of different ingredients and navigated their aromatic associations with historic life, medicinal uses, or special occasions. Coming up as part of the programme (but now fully booked), at The Sauce Speaks, writer Rebecca May Johnson will serve up a pasta dish as inspiration for a creative writing session, exploring memory and taste. 

A close up photo of bowls with spices and ingredients including ginger and oranges
The 'Sniff-and-Share History' stall at the festival launch, exploring ingredients for Tudor gingerbread


Indigestion? No problem. 

In Edinburgh, researchers are following the journey of food beyond the teeth and tongue, and exploring what goes on at gut-level. Our gut is a multispecies fermentation hub, and the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society are inviting audiences to experience digestion as a joint activity with our resident microbes at an event on 15 November. Alongside a meditative soundscape and edible encounter, stories will be told about the peculiar ways in which microbial communities make their home inside of us.  

Find out more about Gutscapes: A Meditation on Eating and Being with Microbes


In Liverpool, the focus will turn to the staff and volunteers who work in soup kitchens and homelessness charities. On 16 November, Holy Hosts/No Angels will celebrate this vital work with an evening of talks, stories and a pop-up exhibition, as well as an immersive theatre production that gives a real insight into life working for the NHS.  

The event will take place in the iconic St Luke’s Bombed Out Church under the open night sky - the perfect location to shine a light on what it means to be without shelter, and to celebrate the workers that offer it. 


Food fights may seem the preserve of comic strips, but in 1766 they had a more serious agenda. In October of that year, the Mayor of Nottingham was bowled over by a gigantic cheese, during protests at the high price of food in Nottingham. Food riots were the most common form of popular protest in 18th century Britain, with regular, often physical, disturbances against the high price of flour, wheat, bread and dairy products. 

A Being Human event at Nottingham Castle on 17 November will explore the history and legacies of these protests. Cheesed Off! Nottingham’s Food Riots (1750-1800) (currently fully booked) will consider different dimensions of the protests, and the elements of rhyme and reason which underpinned them. The event will include a guided walk of 'Rebellion Gallery' at Nottingham Castle, and a cheese tasting. 

Guests at the Being Human Festival launch sample cheese
Guests at the festival launch event sample some cheese from The Cheese Shop, Nottingham


Fit to burst after all that fascinating food? Then sit back and relax while listening to BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking. The broadcast features researchers involved in Being Human events in Tamworth and Edge Hill, and takes a deep dive into all things food. You can catch the programme live at 10pm on Tuesday 14 November, or catch up after the broadcast on the BBC Radio 3 website

Find out more 

Check out the full range of food-themed events at Being Human 2023.