You may notice that today, for a change, I am about meat and not potatoes.
I started reading Rachel Laudan’s Cuisine & Empire the other day. It is, as the title might suggest, epic in range, tracking the spread of key cuisines across the globe in what is a broad, sweeping history of cooking.
A book to sink your teeth into:
Rachel Laudan’s Cuisine & Empire
A dense, scholarly tome – think small fonts, few pictures, and reams of references – it’s not what you’d necessarily want to skim through over your morning cornflakes but, to be honest, its solidity and substance make a change from the day-to-day scatter of information delivered and consumed in tweets and sound bites. And despite ranging across countries far and centuries wide, it brought to mind something closer to home – a visit I made in December to Higgin’s Butchers in Sutton.
Wheat-and-Meat on Dublin’s Northside:
Higgins Butchers and Il Valentino Bakery
They like potatoes so much, they eat them on bread.
I think I clapped and made some kind of “woo!” sound when I heard Joanna Schaffalitzky say that. Sometimes I just can’t help myself when it comes to spuds.
Joanna was referring to a Danish fondness for potatoes that sounded like it might just give our legendary Irish love of the spud a good run for its money. She was speaking at Foodcamp – an event now in its third year at the Savour Kilkenny Food Festival, which encourages anyone who so desires to make a presentation on the food topic of their choice. Joanna’s thoroughly enjoyable, thought-provoking and – given the generous quantity of edible samples – very filling presentation looked at how we here in Ireland might do well to look towards Denmark for culinary inspiration, instead of seeking, as we not uncommonly do, to borrow dishes from more Mediterranean climes.
Ireland, meet Denmark: you've got a lot in common (map adapted from wikipedia.org)
It seems an unlikely place to start a revolution: a tiny island off the coast of far west Cork, inhabited by less than 30 people and without even pub to call its own. And yet Heir Island is now home to the Firehouse Bakery and Bread School, headquarters of Patrick Ryan’s self-styled Bread Revolution, one which you can read all about in his book of the same name, or, better still, which you can discover for yourself by making the trip to West Cork and taking one of Patrick’s bread-making courses. Lucky me, then, to be invited to do exactly that last weekend, and what a joy it was.
View from Heir Island: the calm before cooking up a storm