So, what exactly does one do with a load of Turkish pepper?
I’ve been wondering about that for past few weeks, ever since my brother, who’d been travelling in the Turkish neck of the woods, brought me a collection of randomly chosen local spices, most of which turned out to be pepper of some kind. There were small, maroon-coloured chilli flakes called isot biber or urfa biber (and not one, but two packets thereof), bright red chilli flakes labelled pul kirmizi biber, and karabiber, which I took to be ground white pepper but which I now suspect is more black peppery.
Part of my newly-acquired Turkish pepper stash
Food is such a personal thing.
Your desert island dish may not float my culinary boat, whilst my idea of food heaven may be your notion of hell on a dinner plate. So I truly do admire anyone who is prepared to put themselves and their food forward to be judged and publicly criticised or praised, as the case may be.
I was reminded of that fact as the first ever season of MasterChef Ireland kicked off last week, and a batch of 50 hopefuls submitted their dishes to be scrutinised by Michelin-starred chef Dylan McGrath and restaurateur Nick Munier. The cooking abilities of the 16 who made it through the initial round will, no doubt, be tested to their limits – and then some – over the next few weeks, and their every kitchen drama will be played out on screen as they vie for the final and not-to-be-sniffed-at prize of €25,000.
So what, exactly, does Irish food look like?
Sadly, according to the results returned for “Irish food” by google image search (as at the time of writing, at any rate), the picture (or rather, pictures) ain’t pretty.
Realising this, the ever-savvy folks at Bord Bia gathered together a troop of Irish food bloggers and sat them in front of the combined talents and experience of food-blogger-turned-author-turned-tv-chef Donal Skehan, food stylist to the stars, Sharon Hearne Smith, food photographer Jocasta Clarke, the original of the Irish blogger species, Damien Mulley, as well as cookbook editor and blogger at Edible Ireland, Dinner du Jour, and the Irish Food Bloggers Association, Kristin Jensen. It was a morning of chat about food photography and styling, image search and recipe writing, all aimed at helping us to present better images of Irish food to the online world.
Sharon Hearne Smith lets us in on some tricks of the food styling trade, from carefully considered
cake placement to the perfect dollop of cream, to using a heat gun on cheese for that just-melted effect