Well now, this is embarassing.
There I go, week in, week out, presenting the potato as a force for good when, all the while, there is a dark side to consider. And no, I’m not talking about blighted blackstuff or the evils of french fried excess. No, though I do so grudgingly, I feel I must, in the grand historical scheme of things, include Spud the Usurper in the catalog of culinary villains.
They might look innocent enough, but don’t be fooled…
It was last weekend’s Slow Roots Symposium in Sandbrook House, Co. Carlow, that put my potato-pushing into perspective, specifically the presentation by culinary arts students from the Cork Institute of Technology of a paper entitled: A Study of Irish Food Culture before the Arrival of the Potato.
The “Food Unconference” the organisers called it.
The event in question, Foodcamp, returned as part of this weekend’s Savour Kilkenny festival, after a very successful inaugural outing last year. The agenda was largely determined by the attendees, each of whom was free to give a presentation, and the guidelines were simple: inform your audience rather than sell to them, and bring something to share for lunch.
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