It is lovely to find that one’s delight in good local food, is not so much greed but seeking ‘culinary authenticity’…
Culinary Tourism is defined by Wikipedia as ‘the pursuit of unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences’. It is now considered a vital element of travel. Farewell fruitlessly searching foreign shops for fish and chips… (not that most of us ever did) but I remember once, many years ago when we were camping in France being ‘befriended by an English couple whose sole aim was to find what they considered proper food; their greatest triumph was when they knocked at the tent door to say they had tracked down some M&S biscuits!! They were disappointed by our lukewarm response.
We have long noticed that our Tom’s and Douglas’s Barn guests invariably come to enjoy comfort, countryside, walking and good food. We have loved this, sharing their joy and have always felt very grateful that we have so many terrific local pubs and restaurants, farm shops and delis to recommend.There are also two excellent cookery schools locally and we and our Peak District Premier Cottages friends are hoping that we may be able to work together in some exciting way as yet to be defined. Hopefully more later… and any suggestions gratefully received.
The Irish are streets ahead of us in recognising the benefits and attractions of culinary tourism. I am sure one can eat badly there, as in any country, but in ten days we did not have a meal that was anything but delicious, whether in wayside pubs, smart Dublin restaurants or a simple quayside fish restaurant in Co Cork: all serving fresh local produce beautifully cooked and nicely presented.
Meanwhile, I am building up to share with you the most exciting for me of all our 'authentic Irish culinary excitements' that I was lucky enough to experience in Ireland last week.
Months ago I had booked myself onto a 4-hour demonstration workshop at Ballymaloe Cookery School, in Shanagarry, Co. Cork. Basically a dozen or more of us amateur cooks were sitting in on an element of the serious professional students’ 12-week course.
What an exciting experience it truly was from the delicious coffee and cakes upon arrival. We were lucky that the session was taken by the great Darina Allen herself and her brother Rory, both were inspirational and entertaining and throughly impressive throughout.
I felt so lucky to be there. They produced during the four hours twenty truly exciting dishes – using organic and ‘unmessed around with’ ingredients – which we all enjoyed for lunch. I came away with all the recipes and couldn’t resist buying some very ‘authentic’ ingredients from their shop.
After lunch we were shown round their extensive organic gardens, while the students went off on a session on wine and local school children were being introduced to gardening and keeping hens.
A week later and I am still bubbling with superlatives! Meanwhile, if any of you have any bright suggestions for some really great culinary experience that we could plan locally here in the Peak District, please let me know!