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The Food Chain

The Food Chain

What's in a national dish?

Thu, 21 Sep 2023
Many dishes have become famous national symbols both at home and abroad, for example Italian pizza, or British fish and chips.

Whilst such dishes can create a sense of unity and identity, they can also be used to fuel nationalism, or to push a political agenda.

In this edition of The Food Chain, Izzy Greenfield hears the stories behind some of the most famous national foods, some based more on myth or marketing than historical fact.

She speaks to Anya Von Bremzen, author of 'National Dish', in which Anya investigates the origins of foods such as Italian pizza, Japanese noodles, Spanish tapas and Mexican tortillas. The Secretary of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage at UNESCO, Tim Curtis, explains why some dishes are recognised for the community practices that surround them. Andrew Crook, President of the National Federation of Fish Fryers in the UK, and food historian Professor Panikos Panayi from DeMontfort University in Leicester, England, explain the complex history behind fish and chips.

If you would like to get in touch with the programme, email

Presented by Izzy Greenfield.
Produced by Beatrice Pickup.

(Image:takeaway fish and chips with a union jack flag on a cocktail stick. Credit: BBC)

The taste test

Thu, 14 Sep 2023
Consumers have the buying power but how much are they considered when a brand decides to make a change?

In this edition of The Food Chain Ruth Alexander takes a look at what goes into developing some of the products we know and love.

We travel to the northwest of England to a consumer taste testing facility, Wirral Sensory Services. Such businesses would have been few and far between just decades ago but now they’re a big part of the research process when brands look to launch new products or make changes to existing ones.

Consumer expert Dr Sara Jaeger tells us about the benefits and the limitations of these tests and business consultant Samuel West talks us through some of the most well know failures in food.

If you would like to get in touch with the show, please email:

Presenter: Ruth Alexander

Producer: Hannah Mullane

(Image: a woman blindfolded, sat in front of a pizza. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)

The art of food diplomacy

Thu, 07 Sep 2023
As India welcomes the world’s biggest economies for the G20 meeting this September, we look at the role that food might play in top level discussions.

Food diplomacy is increasingly seen as a form of ‘soft power’ that can help build bridges and find common ground.

In this programme Devina Gupta speaks to chef Arun Sundaraj, who is leading the catering teams at the Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi which is hosting many of the G20 delegates. She visits the Colombian embassy in London to hear from the country’s ambassador about the role food played during vital peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC. Devina also travels to Glasgow in Scotland to share a plate of haggis with Scotland’s national chef, Gary Maclean and Lauren Bernstein, founder and CEO of The Culinary Diplomacy Project in the United States, explains why governments are looking to hire culinary experts to aid in diplomacy.

Presented by Devina Gupta.

Produced by Rumella Dasgupta.

(Image: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden raise two wine glasses in a toast. Credit: Getty Images/ The Washington Post/ BBC).

Feeding baby

Thu, 31 Aug 2023
Weaning refers to the process of introducing your baby to solid foods, alongside breast milk or formula. In the UK, the NHS suggests this normally happens at around six months old.

In this programme Rick Kelsey starts the weaning journey with his baby boy Albie, and finds out about some of the different approaches including ‘spoon fed’ and ‘baby led’ weaning. He also gets advice on how to deal with allergies and choking.

Rick Kelsey is joined by Katie Shelton from ‘Scrummy Tummies’, Dr Sarika Kapoor who posts online as ‘The Weaning GP’, and Rachel Childs, nutritionist at First Steps Nutrition Trust, a public health charity in the UK.

Produced and presented by Rick Kelsey.

You can contact the programme by emailing

(Image: a baby being spoon fed, with food around its mouth. Credit: Getty Images/ BBC)

Stop chewing like that!

Thu, 24 Aug 2023
Imagine not being able to sit and eat at the dinner table with your family without feeling furious.

The little-known condition of Misophonia, often called “sound rage”, is a lower tolerance to certain sounds. Although sufferers can react to several types of repetitive noises, many are particularly triggered by eating sounds.

Misophonia has not been classified as a clinical disorder, and there have only been a few studies into it, which means many doctors have never heard of the condition.

In this programme, Ruth Alexander meets three people with Misophonia who are trying to raise awareness: Dr Jane Gregory, a doctoral research fellow at Oxford University; Adeel Ahmad, the host of a misophonia-themed podcast in the US, and Olana Tansley-Hancock, a clinical researcher based in the UK.

If you would like to get in touch with the programme, email

(Image: Young man and woman next to each other, woman biting into apple. Credit: Getty Images/BBC)

Produced by Julia Paul

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