I was dragged (kicking and screaming needless to say) to the Cambridge Beer Festival last night, so suffice to say by the time you are reading this, I probably won’t be. But happily I was armed with knowledge from a beer expert which might help avoid the sort of schoolboy errors which have blighted previous shindigs. One of the key things to look for in beer, we’re told, is the quality of the foam in your preferred pint. Apparently 13,000 years of brewing experience dating back to some clever folk in Haifa in Israel, tell us that a pint with a good “collar” of foam means that the gas is less likely to erupt in your stomach and leave you feeling bloated. Anyway, strictly in the interests of science, I went along intending to give this theory a comprehensive workout. I should have the results by late morning.

And what better after a good night out than a Chinese takeaway? My parents spent a few years in Singapore so our family made regular visits to the Chinese restaurant in our local village in my youth, where we feasted on such delights as chop suey and sweet and sour pork balls. It wasn’t until I lived in Sydney, where the fabulous restaurants in Chinatown offered a more “authentic” menu with the likes of congee (delicious rice porridge), hand-pulled noodles and clams in XO sauce that I realised what I’d been eating in the UK was pretty substandard fare. To which end, here’s a history of British Chinese food which will help you get your head around the concept of curry sauce and chips.

Our little pooch will certainly want to get involved in any takeaway we order. Betty can hear a fridge door opening at 100 paces and smell a delivery order arriving a mile off. And it’s the extraordinary canine olfactory capacity I’d like to focus on now. We’ve established previously that dogs can smell fear and stress in human sweat. But research suggests they are also remarkably good at sniffing out diseases. In fact, research in a lab setting in California found the accurately identified COVID in 95% of cases. Fun fact: dogs initially use their right nostril to sniff at something before turning to their left when they know all is safe. As for Betty, she mainly uses her nose to look down at me when I refuse to give her my last pork ball.

This week we also put turmeric health claims to the test, we explained to eight-year-old Grace who the first people to speak English were and we reviewed how the UK’s net migration figure, which reached a record level this week, came to dominate British politics and even the direction of the country.

Jonathan Este

Associate Editor, International Affairs Editor


Why more foam makes for the best beer-drinking experience – and always has

Anistatia Renard Miller, University of Bristol

If your beer has no foam you could end up with terrible bloat.

A Chinese and English takeaway in Claughton village, Birkenhead. Philip Brookes/Shutterstock

Chow mein and chips: a brief history of the British Chinese takeaway

Jamie Coates, University of Sheffield; Niamh Calway, University of Oxford

Citizens of former British colonies such as Malaysia and Hong Kong rented vacant fish and chip shops to start their Chinese takeaway businesses.

Renko Aleks/Shutterstock

Doctor dog: how our canine companions can help us detect COVID and other diseases

Jacqueline Boyd, Nottingham Trent University

Dogs love to sniff, and they’re good at it.

Most of turmeric’s reported health benefits are linked to compounds called curcuminoids. tarapong srichaiyos/ Shutterstock

Turmeric: here’s how it actually measures up to health claims

Duane Mellor, Aston University

Humans have used turmeric for more than 4,000 years.

Anglo-Saxon village re-enactment event in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, 2008. Simon Annable/Shutterstock

Curious Kids: who was the first person to speak English?

Ad Putter, University of Bristol

Hundreds of years ago, people spoke Old English – but it is very different to English today.

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