Nigel, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love your appetite-stimulating writing, your easy recipes, your ability to always show me something interesting to do with kitchen constants like cauliflower, onions or lentils. I love your weekly column in the Observer and I love the Observer Food Monthly magazine (which, while living in NZ, I had sent out to me by my long-suffering mother!). I love your books, right from the copy of Real Fast Food that I got when in college, through entertaining from Real Food and Appetite while in my first job, The Kitchen Diaries that I recommended to many Urru customers, bookclub choice Toast and, now, to Tender.
Seasonal? What is seasonal? If you were to look in my garden at the moment, you might think that courgettes (and a few caterpillar-eaten cabbages) are the only things that are in season but my shortcomings as a gardener might not be best representative of what vegetables are available at the moment! Take a look at a farmers’ market veg stall (or at a better managed garden) and it’s easy to see that carrots and parsnips, the brassicas – broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower – main crop potatoes, runner beans, rhubarb and even Irish-grown peppers are all plentiful right now.
For generations, perhaps scarred by the shared memory of starvation, Irish eating habits were simply about having enough. Food was plain, but plentiful: steaming piles of potatoes, well-boiled vegetables (often home-grown) and meat from the local butcher.