Inishfood 2012

by Kristin on May 22, 2012

Knowledge, moderation and interdependency — the three pillars of pleasure in food, according to Ed Hick at his talk at this past weekend’s Inishfood festival in County Donegal. He could well have been talking about the foundations of the success of the festival itself.

Knowledge means knowing the name of the person you’re buying your food from or talking about your food with. It’s tied into the idea of provenance, which we’re valuing more and more these days. At Inishfood, the knowledge of who provided every bite of your food — from the beef, beer and bread, to the seafood and salad, to Darren’s pizzas and Sally’s sea grass and lemon butter, even down to who roasted the coffee beans just the week before — is central to the pleasure taken in it.

Moderation is the opposite of gluttony, which actually lessens flavour and pleasure. Think about how much more you enjoy your first bite of a rich dessert compared to your last. In unromantic economic terms, it’s called utility and refers to the threshold of satisfaction. Less really is more — the less of something you have, the more you enjoy it. It’s why seasonal food is special and pleasurable — food that’s available year round becomes debased and unremarkable. At Inishfood, the tasting menu on Saturday night was ten courses, but each course was only a few bites, meant to be mindfully savoured and lingered over.

Interdependency refers to the social aspect of eating. Food, conversation, music and ambiance are all shared, and it’s that interdependent act of sharing that makes an experience special. Or to put it another way, think of it as having the craic — that unique aspect of Irish culture that means a lively atmosphere and good conversation. At Inishfood, all the tables in the restaurant are pushed together for people to be seated in big groups and food is brought out on platters to be passed around and served family style, which means you can’t help but engage with the people around you. At Inishfood, the craic is mighty.

Sharing was another word that was used a lot at Inishfood — sharing skills, knowledge, recipes or even the wheel of three-year-old Coolea cheese that Seamus Sheridan brought down to the beach for Sunday’s foraging talk and impromptu picnic. At the end of the day, food is most meaningful when it’s shared, which is what Inishfood is all about.

Harrys Bar and Restaurant
County Donegal
+353 (0)74 936 8544

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Nessa Robins May 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm

What a lovely post, Kristin. It’s so important to enjoy our food and those points on knowledge, moderation and interdependency of food is very thought provoking. I was sorry to miss the festival, but delighted that it such a great success!


Kristin May 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Hope you can make it up next year, Nessa, it’s an amazing weekend!


Catherine May 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm

As my kids would say, Kristin, your post ‘just nailed it’. Not that I had the good fortune to be there- circumstances conspired against it- but just that you have distilled the essence of what convivial eating is all about. Sounds like a really edifying weekend. Maybe next year…


Kristin May 26, 2012 at 10:17 pm

I’m only the note-taker here – the ideas are all Ed Hick’s. It’s an inspiring festival, hope you can make it next year!


Gillian May 22, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Isn’t it great that even though I was not at InishFood, I feel like I was. That’s thanks to all the posts, tweets and sharing from everyone. Lovely post K!


Kristin May 26, 2012 at 10:18 pm

That’s the sharing spirit of Inishfood in action then!


Thanh @ eat, little bird May 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm

What a great philosophy on food and eating. All of the points you referred to are so important in helping us to appreciate and enjoy more what gives us nourishment.


Kristin May 26, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Ed summed things up neatly with those three points, didn’t he?


Sally McKenna May 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Such an atmospheric piece, and wonderful photos. You captured it.


Kristin May 26, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Thanks, Sally! And thanks for pulling over so I could take that first photo. ;)


Nenaghgal May 31, 2012 at 10:35 am

Kristin – I really enjoyed this post – beautiful imagery and words – so sorry I missed Inishfood it sounds like it was a great weekend. Sharing food around a big table totally appeals to me – love entertaining and sharing the experience of different dishes. Hope to get there next year.


Kristin June 5, 2012 at 8:39 pm

It’s definitely worth travelling up for, I think you’d love it! Hope to see you there next year.


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