A new project is underway to connect as many people as possible with traditional Irish food skills at risk of being lost, by locating the people who are keepers of this knowledge and can recount the story of the nation’s culinary heritage.
Fewer and fewer food artisans continue to cure bacon, salt fish, churn butter, make cheese or boxty, distill mead and whiskey, cook with seaweed, preserve fruit and many other techniques from years gone by – be it at home or work.
To counter this, Slow Food Ireland hopes to rebuild awareness of traditional methods, often handed down from generation to generation, by recording the knowledge of experienced people across the island.
The different types of food preparation techniques and the people experienced in using them will be recorded in an information bank not only as a historical record, but also to pass the skills on and keep them alive.
Siobhán Morris is researching a range of food preparation techniques on behalf of the Bord Bia Taste Council, the Irish Food Board’s industry group representing the interests of the artisan and specialty food sector, who have commissioned the project. She welcomes all enquiries, regardless of whether the skills are still being used, on both domestic and commercial levels.
This weekend, convivia across Ireland are focusing on pork, holding a range of events to celebrate Irish breeders, butchers and small goods producers. In East Cork, visitors to Ballymaloe Cookery School will meet the farm’s organic pigs and learn how to make various types of homemade sausages, while the Garden Convivium in Wicklow County have organized a Master Butcher to present a whole side of pork prepared in various ways.