There are some things that I now consider it my, er, job to do.
Like attending last weekend’s Taste of Dublin festival, for example – something that I thought you would like to know about and, therefore, I just had to go. You seeing how this works?
For those not familiar with the festival, the idea is that you mill about in the pleasant surrounds of the Iveagh Gardens, grazing on sample-sized portions of signature dishes from various city restaurants until either your belly is full, your wallet is empty or, quite possibly, both. In addition to the restaurant stands, there are other stalls plying their assorted food and drink wares and, occasionally, wares that don’t have anything to do with food or drink at all (window blinds, anyone?). There’s music. There are cookery demos. There are people wielding trays of free samples (I mostly noticed chocolate) and, if, you should feel the need, a free shot of vodka can be yours too. Providing the weather holds up, it’s a pleasant, if not particularly cheap way to indulge your inner foodie for a few hours.
Now, one of the things that I got most excited by at the event was not actually the food, but the opportunity to get a little bit of first-hand cookery instruction from none other than Darina Allen, owner of the renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School and champion of the Slow Food movement in Ireland.
She’s delightfully no-nonsense and freely admits to keeping a stash of Maldon sea salt in her handbag, to be pressed into action during any under-salting emergency. As she took us through our paces with homemade mayonnaise, she extolled the virtues of keeping one’s own hens and assured us that it was not as impractical a suggestion as we might have thought.
I’ll admit that having the eggs that would result from keeping some hens is indeed a nice idea. I even started wondering if there were any hatcheries these days that would dispatch a box of day-old chicks by means of the local bus, which is how my folks, at one time, used to acquire the means to freshly laid eggs, with a few extra to sell. Still, even if I don’t start rearing hens anytime soon, I will endeavour to at least make my own mayonnaise in future and just keep the Hellmann’s for emergencies. That, and I will use the bestest eggs I can get, I promise. I’m just not quite ready to go into full-blown egg production yet. You can tell I’m thinking about it, though, can’t you?