Harvest Time Again

Ireland’s oldest town, the tiny, picturesque Waterford, became the center of the Slow Food map this week, as a beautiful local market unfolded along the quays, showcasing more than a hundred local producers and street food vendors for the Waterford Harvest Festival, held September 10 to 19.

The third edition of the event provided a fantastic opportunity to promote “what is ours and what we should rightly be proud of and defend”, according to Mary Roche, the dynamic mayor of Waterford, who also voiced the City Hall’s support for this festival in the future. Since its inception along with Terra Madre Ireland in 2008, the Waterford Harvest Festival has been heartily embraced by local residents and the Waterford county council.

The event was launched with a beautiful dinner at Waterford Castle which sits on an island connected to the mainland by a ferry service. Diners were brought back in time by Terra Madre Chef Michael Quinn, who recreated a dinner hosted by Princess d’Ardia Caracciola, the last member of the Fitzgerald family to live in the castle, based on an old newspaper article which tells the story of that dinner. Eager to also feed the more casual weekend crowd that strolled through the Slow Food market, Quinn roasted a locally-raised pig for 10 hours, served sliced in Blaa, a specialty local white bread.

Darina Allen, head of Slow Food in Ireland, local celebrity chef and food writer gave cooking demonstrations, showing the public how easy it can be to cook a delicious, nutritious everyday meal, using and adapting popular traditional recipes.

Meanwhile, a taste education workshop based on the Slow Food sensorial education kit, To the Origins of Taste, was held for adults and children, allowing more than 400 participants to have fun while participating in hands on activities to discover how our senses work together to create the perception of taste. Many participants begin with little understanding of the subject matter but had no trouble grasping the concepts through experience. The response was overwhelmingly positive among all ages groups, from young children to senior citizens.

Currently in Ireland, The National School Curriculum for Home Economics requires students to undertake “comparative analysis, where students will be expected to critically evaluate dishes or products and develop the skills and language of sensory analysis for the completion of the food studies assignments”, yet most schools do not have any model for sensory analysis. Slow Food’s sensory education program could therefore provide a useful model for sensory education to this end. Irish convivia are currently looking for sponsorship to develop further develop the Slow Food taste education program and increase its reach to children in a wider number of schools.

For more information:
Waterford Harvest Festival

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