Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Food for Thought Weekend

I listened nervously to the speakers on Saturday at The School of Artisan Food, knowing it would be me in the spotlight the next day. But actually in the end the nerves disappeared until about ten minutes before I went on, I ended up totally distracted by all the fascinating people, and by the endless food and drink being proffered in my direction...


Unfortunately we were on the A1 while Jeremy Lee, Joanna Blythman and Jeanette Orrey were speaking, but we arrived in time to hear Bee Wilson speak about how people learn to eat; or to feed. A really interesting insight into how children develop eating habits and how to help them and make food a delight, teaching them to take pleasure in eating everything available.


Olia Hercules took to the stage that afternoon and told us lovely tales of fermenting foods in the Ukraine, so many ideas I want to try and places I would love to visit one day. The summer kitchens of Ukraine sound like beautiful places to hang out, I'd like to have one in Newcastle but we don't have any issues with it being too hot up here... and we don't even have a garden... so that's the end of that pipe dream. If you don't have Olia's book Mamushka you should get it, it has beautiful recipes and is written with such warmth and humour.

After a lovely evening of food, wine and new friends I was first up in the morning. I had written my speech over the course of the week before, not leaving quite enough time and interrupted by life and escaped bees I only finished it the night before, turns out talking for 45 minutes is a LOT of words, about 6000 actually. I will publish it here at some point soon...

I told of my journey from architecture, to food blog, to market organiser to shipping container restaurant owner and everything in between over the past 5 years. I included lots of beautiful photos just in case I froze. There were a couple of moments when my mouth felt like it wouldn't move and I forgot to breathe occasionally, but I got through it and everyone was very complimentary at the end.


That morning we also heard from James Whetlor on the challenges of trying to farm goats on a scale to supply national supermarkets. It left us thinking that there should be some level of shop between farmers market and supermarket that allows these producers to make a decent living without having to jump through all the impossible hoops the supermarkets impose, let alone the cost of getting through those hoops... A farm shop chain specific to the region it's in... a future project perhaps. after the summer kitchen...

Next were Honey & Co. duo Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich, who told the charming tale of opening their place in Soho, and its background in the food they grew up on. Finally Andrew Graham Dixon, then Ivan Day, a wonderful food historian, who told us about the Coccagna festivals held in Italian cities in the 17th century. They were based on myths where money and food grew on trees, rivers flowed with wine and if you worked you went to prison. Sounds alright? They constructed huge pavilions of cake and bread, formal gardens made from hams and cheese, fountains of wine, you can't imagine anything like it. Constructed by the king and then given to the poor of the city to feast on...

I still feel a bit overwhelmed by the whole weekend, it was wonderful!


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