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Cork Independent

Bia Sasta

Education begins at home

Wednesday, 9th October, 2019 4:36pm

The Blas na hÉireann awards and the Dingle Food Festival came to an end last Sunday with great events throughout the weekend and thousands of food lovers visiting the quaint town of Dingle.

I attended some talks at the Backyard tent with one being How to Spark a Conversation. As the talk was more about online conversation on social media, I thought about how food can truly spark a conversation.

During the time of our Critic Nights, I witnessed strangers almost becoming friends over a plate of good food.

Communal tables at my events do create the perfect platform to share ideas and thoughts. It showed that we do like to talk about food, share recipes and trying out new things.

Attending food events like the Dingle Food Festival – or any other good festival – can open your eyes on what is out there.

I learned about food from people who knew, understood and in many cases even grew their food. By talking, asking and sharing, we can spread not only the love of food but knowledge and understanding.

My mum used to say ‘what the farmer doesn’t know, he won’t eat’ – she meant my dad, who comes from a farming background in England. It took him years to try out different foods, discovering his love for spicy curries. He even got so brave that he tried a vegetarian dish I cooked once – it was also the last time though!

My friends send me photos of food they eat in newly discovered restaurants, telling me all about it – this wouldn’t have happened 10 years ago.

Sometimes I get random messages on my Facebook page (Bia Sasta), telling me that they love the images I put up of the food I cook and eat and that they are now enticed into trying new things and even asking for recipes.

I also think that we need to have these conversations with children and teenagers and so encourage them to try proper food rather than thinking that fast food and chain restaurants are the answer to good nutrition.

Tastebuds are such delicate things, numbing them with industrial salted spice mixes will leave them insensitive to pure flavours of freshly prepared food.

So, how do we start a food conversation with a child who thinks that a visit to McDonalds or Burger King is a culinary highlight?

By getting them involved in the kitchen, by growing edible plants (even if you don’t have a garden, your windowsill is a perfect spot for herbs).

I was joined by Manuela Spinelli (better known as the interpreter of former Republic of Ireland football manger Giovanni Trapattoni, now Secretary of EuroToque) at the judging table at Blas, and we had a chat (as you do over plates of good food).

We talked about the lack of food education in Irish schools and she argued the point – and I had to agree – that food education starts in the home, as Italy has no food education either, yet everyone in Italy understands food.

The pride that Italian people have for their food culture is second to none and missing widely here. Start your own food conversation at home and spread the love of food and you might make friends for life!

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