The Meanings of Food: Why Words Matter

Left to right: Priya Deshingkar, Martyn Lee, Georgie Ma, Mallika Basu, Keshia Sakarah

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Language in food as a unifier and connector

This event takes place on the British Library’s Piazza Pavilion. Tickets are free but booking is required.

The ways we talk about food, new words and terminologies are constantly changing, especially in the digital age. They are part of our journey of discovery and break boundaries in how and what we eat. But they are also complex and at the same time as bringing connection, they have repercussions of cultural appropriation, bias and the accidental ‘othering’ of the minority communities that inspire us.

Food-writer and commentator Mallika Basu leads a panel of academics, commercial product developers and food culture commentators to look at some of the challenges of getting food language right.

Mallika Basu is a food writer, commentator and industry consultant with two published cookbooks and a bi-monthly newsletter titled More than Curry. She runs a strategic communications consultancy focused on culture and diversity, and has delivered talks on food, culture and mindset, covering language and labels, cultural appropriation and more to over 800 members of the food industry. She is Committee Member for diversity at the Guild of Food Writers and Advisory Board member of Be Inclusive Hospitality. Mallika delivers food writing courses for the British Library and has a Master’s in Journalism.

Priya Deshingkar is a food-obsessed academic. She is Professor of Migration and Development at the University of Sussex and supper clubber at Deccan Tiffin. Priya is passionate about Indian food, especially the food of Old Delhi where she grew up, and she has made it her mission to share her deep knowledge of spicing and cooking techniques. Priya’s cooking highlights the enormous diversity of Indian regional food traditions, and she has run the widely acclaimed monthly Maharani Supper Club in Brighton since 2013. Priya feels that the UK Indian food scene has come a long way but there are still some fundamental attitudes, practices, and language that need tackling.

Martyn Lee has been working within food development for over 20 years, first within the restaurant sector and for the past 11 years in manufacturing and retail environments. Formerly Executive Chef at Tesco, and now Executive chef and Manager of Food Innovation at Waitrose he has a passion for bringing new and exciting products to market, using collaborative techniques and insights to elevate the customer experience.

Georgie Ma is a BBC (British born Chinese) born and raised in Macclesfield. Her parents owned a Chinese takeaway which she worked at since the age of 10 and also lived above the shop with her parents and 2 siblings. Georgie created a podcast called Chinese Chippy Girl during the pandemic when there has been a rise in hate on the ESEA community. The aim of the podcast is to bring better representation to the ESEA community and to amplify ESEA voices. Georgie co-created #ESEAeats, a movement on social media to celebrate ESEA food heritage.

Keshia Sakarah is chef and owner of Caribe' - Caribbean Eating, based in Brixton. Taking inspiration from her Montserratian and Barbudan heritage, her goal is to celebrate the diverse food culture that exists in the Caribbean, bringing it into the mainstream in the UK. Her supper club BARURU specifically takes diners on a food journey throughout the region exploring traditional recipes and history of the Caribbean. Keshia is also a recipe contributor to publications such as Guardian: Feast, BBC Food, Olive and Delicious Magazine. She has written pieces for Resy, MOB Kitchen and CN Traveller. She was named amongst '100 influential women in food' by CODE, 2021.

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This event will not be live-streamed

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Name: The Meanings of Food: Why Words Matter
Where: British Library St Pancras
When: -
Price: Free Event: £0.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546