The food industry, like the fashion industry, is driven by the pursuit of impossible perfection: endless rows of blemish-free fruit and vegetables in supermarket aisles (tasting of not-very-much), pre-packaged trays of skinless, boneless meats with nary a head or foot or tail in sight and a steady stream of cookbooks and articles with photo-shopped, super-saturated photos of beautiful dishes bathed in summer sunlight. In their book Ugly Food, Tim Wharton and Richard Horsey argue for a more responsible approach to food and cookery. In so-called ‘Western’, Anglo-Saxon cuisines there are a range of ingredients that people refuse to eat simply because of the way they look: certain ugly fish, for example – gurnard, garfish, horse mackerel’ ugly vegetables too – celeriac, Hamburg parsley and Jerusalem artichoke.

In the current environmental climate, this is unacceptable.

In his Yor-K Festival talk, Dr Tim Wharton will present the Maxims of Gastronomy outlined in Ugly Food: The Maxim of Quality, The Maxim of Purity, The Maxim of Availability and The Maxim of Sustainability. He will show how one everyday ingredient rises to the challenges inherent all these maxims and ticks all the boxes when it comes to the more responsible approach proposed in Ugly Food. In one culture, the humble cabbage – derided by just about every school-age child in the UK (a derision that persists in many adult victims of childhood school-cabbage-trauma), has well and truly transcended its status as a mere vegetable. Salted and fermented with chilli and garlic – kimchi (and the process of making it – kimjang) has become a way of life in South Korea and, more than that, a means of promoting peace and well-being: a kind of gastro-diplomacy. This talk celebrates the language of kimchi. A recipe for kimchi is about more than just the preparation of cabbage; it is, in effect, a recipe for happiness!

Date and time

Sat, 28 May 2022
15:00 – 16:00 BST


CC/011, York St John Creative Centre
York St John University
Lord Mayor's Walk
YO31 7EX