A Bitter Taste?
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Appetite suppressant, glucose control and inflammation antidote... The scientific research around the power of bitter foods may sound far-fetched. But new studies are continuing to add to our knowledge of what this food group, disliked by many, can do for our health. To find out more, Leyla Kazim speaks to Italian taste scientist and self-confessed ‘bitter enthusiast’, Gabriella Morini, who has been studying this area since the eighties. Can, and should, we learn to love bitter? Leyla spends a morning cooking with chef and MasterChef finalist Alexina Anatole, whose new book Bitter is on a mission to help us do just that. After cooking with bitter greens, Leyla tracks their journey from plate back to field. While salad might seem an unseasonal thing to be eating in winter, British soils and temperature are actually well suited to growing a huge variety of winter salads, notable for their fresh taste as well as their resilience. She meets a specialist mixed leaf salad grower and hears how choosing these varieties could help reduce our reliance on Spanish salad, where climate change is making winter growing increasingly erratic. In many ways, understanding the power of bitter foods is regaining knowledge that was used by our ancestors; while bitter herbs and leaves are still used in traditional medicine in Indigenous cultures across the world. Leyla speaks to food historian Dr Neil Buttery to retrace some of the history of bitter flavours. Finally, calling in on nutritionist Dr Lucy Williamson, Leyla hears tips on how to apply our more modern day understanding of bitter to everyday meals and lifestyles. From old folklore to new scientific research, and from cooking to growing, Leyla discovers how there is plenty more to bitter flavours than might well meet the eye, or the taste bud. Presented by Leyla Kazim. Produced by Nina Pullman for BBC Audio in Bristol.
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