Ireland must do more to highlight the quality of our food and cooking around the world, according to celebrity chef Catherine Fulvio.
It comes after travel website farandwide.com claimed Irish cuisine “can really only be described as ‘meh’”.
“Out forefathers emigrated at a time when we really didn’t have much so what they took with them was a bit of stew and very, very basic recipes,” she said.
“I know because I welcome a lot of Americans here to Ballyknockan. That is their perception of Ireland before they leave the US is that it is all soda bread and Irish stew because that is all they've heard through the generations if they are coming to find their roots.”
See said a Fáilte Ireland study carried out a few years ago showed that international visitors think of beer, whiskey and Guinness when they think of Irish produce with very little knowledge of Irish food.
“It was very disappointing to see that,” she said. “I am all on for our fabulous Irish drinks industry. I think it is brilliant what we’re doing marketing Ireland in that form but it is a bit sad to see that we are not known for our food.”
She said visitors leave Ireland with a very different impression.
“They are always blown away by the Irish food,” she said. “They can’t believe the great produce and as they are travelling around Ireland, they see the cattle in the fields and the sheep in the fields and they see the fishermen working away as they drive along the Wild Atlantic Way.
“They are absolutely blown away by the standard of our raw natural ingredients and how it is presented on the table and actually, in that same study, 76% of Americans were very satisfied with Irish food.
“But it goes back to original question – what is our cuisine? What are we? What defines us? And perhaps that is something we should look at and reinvent our story a little bit.”
'We don’t really have a cuisine'
Also on the show, travel writer Fionn Davenport said the Irish food scene has exploded in recent years – but the cuisine itself is harder to celebrate.
“I would make the argument, not that it is ‘meh’ but that there isn’t much of it,” he said. “We do not have a sophisticated cuisine – we just don’t.
“We have amazing produce and the standard of cooking has gone up inexorably over the last three decades and we have discovered remarkable ways of using this produce in cuisine which is really... I mean does it have an Irish identity really in the way that French cuisine does or Italian cuisine does or Spanish?”
He said chefs and food producers all over the country are going to great lengths to create really high-quality dishes – but noted that their food, “can’t really be described as part of Irish cuisine.”
“It is international cuisines with a strong Irish accent or international cuisine using very, very good local Irish produce,” he said.
“So, in that sense, I would make the argument that yeah, we don’t really have an Irish cuisine.”
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