The theme of this year’s MAD Symposium held in a red circus tent in Copenhagen, was GUTS – this was interpreted in a variety of ways from intestines to raw courage by the speakers.
The symposium was launched on a stage that represented a Danish forest woodland scene – trees and logs and a carpet of grass and wild plants. A whole carcass of a Gloucester Old Spot pig, dangled by the back legs from a chain in the centre of the stage, which gave us a hint that this year’s MAD Symposium was going to be a visceral two days of raw emotions and painful honesty.
I was almost the only white haired woman there that is apart from Diana Kennedy, the feisty 90 year old, cookbook author and noted environmentalist who gave a spirited talk about her life collecting and documenting recipes around remote villages in Mexico for 60 years. Virtually everyone else were young, brilliantly crazy people, chefs, farmers, journalists, politicians, scientists, food writers, some of the brightest minds all united by a love and passion for food and food issues.
David Chang from Momofuko in New York who co-curated the event with René Redzepi and his team, launched the event by telling us about his gutsy decision to open Momofuko in 2004. He introduced Dario Cecchini, the legendary Tuscan butcher famous for being able to recite Dante spontaneously as he butchers his carcass like poetry. He strode onto the stage dressed in red, green and white, knife in hand, with his wife Kim and told us the story of his family who have been butchers for over 250 years. He started to learn his trade at the age of 18 and didn’t get a taste of beef a la fiorentina until he was 18, butcher’s families and children traditionally ate the offal and less expensive cuts. He spoke dreamily of the peasant dishes his mother and grandmother used to make and as he did so, he gently slit the stomach of the pig and the guts tumbled out in a neat bundle. He transferred them to the butchers block then removed the liver, the heart and the kidneys, all the while talking about the noble craft, the importance of rearing, feeding and treating the animal humanely and being grateful for the gift. All of this in front of an audience of over 600 people. It may sound macabre but it was really beautiful, one felt that the pig was having an honourable end and was being treated with respect.
MAD translates to food in Danish, there were many other dramatic moments; all were meant to promote conscious carnivorism and respect for animals.
Over two riveting days different speakers (more than two dozen in all) explored the meaning of GUTS. Margot Henderson from Rochelle Canteen in London and Barbara Lynch chef-owner of eight successful restaurants in Boston spoke of the guts and courage it took to establish themselves as female chefs in a largely male dominated culinary climate, that Fergus Henderson (Margot’s husband and beloved chef owner of St John Restaurant) refers to as ‘blokedom.’ They both got a standing ovation as did Indian activist Vandana Shiva who has for many years been a stalwart champion of biodiversity, conservation and of small farmers around the world. As ever, she spoke eloquently and passionately about the myth of the ‘green revolution’ and “the dangers of a world where five companies control all life on earth.” She reminded us that the meaning of seed in virtually every language is to renew so in that sense GM (Genetically Modified) seeds are not seeds at all because they are manufactured to deconstruct at the end of every growing season to prevent seed saving, so that the companies can sell the seeds to the farmers and create a system of dependence. She spoke of the re-colonisation that’s happening in Africa at the hands of the biotech companies and the 250,000 farmer suicides in India that have been the result of these policies.
When ten year old Martha Payne, walked on stage the audience went wild, so much so that she was almost overwhelmed. She started writing her blog ‘NeverSeconds’ when she was just nine years old and gained instant notoriety and started a school lunch revolution. Her Dad, a sheep farmer from Scotland delivered her presentation as she stood shyly by his side, beautiful powerful stuff. When her head mistress banned her from blogging, her farewell post got over 11,000 emails of support in response. Her chosen charity Mary’s Meals has raised over €74,000 for kids in African villages.
And there was so much more…
Noreen Conroy’s Homemade Sausages
Noreen Conroy is a local pig farmer who, along with her husband, Martin, rears rare-breed pigs. They grow their own grain, turnips and kale to feed the pigs, and the meat is wonderful. Noreen and Martin came to the Cookery School to demonstrate how to make sausages.
Makes about 32 sausages
2kg (4lb 8oz) freshly minced organic pork from the belly and shoulder
100g (31⁄2oz) dry breadcrumbs
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
good pinch of cayenne
oil, for frying
200g (7oz) natural sheep casings
Put the meat into a large bowl, sprinkle the other ingredients evenly on top and mix very thoroughly with clean hands. Fry off a little morsel in a frying pan to taste the seasoning.
Load the casing onto the nozzle of a sausage fille and fill the length of the casing, twisting it every 71⁄2–10cm (3–4in), depending on the size you want. Store in a fridge and eat within two days.
If you don’t have a filler, roll into skinless sausages using about 25g (1oz) of the mixture per sausage. Store in a fridge and use within a day or two.
Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan on a moderate heat and cook the sausages until golden on all sides and cooked through to the centre.
Noma’s Sweet Shrimp from Smögen, Frozen Red Currant Juice
Taken from NOMA Cookbook by Rene Redzepi published by Phaidon Press.
These beautiful shrimps are all around the Irish coast and we get ours directly off the fishing boats in Ballycotton.
20 raw shrimp
200g red currant juice
180g grapeseed oil
70g dill oil
40g white bread
butter for frying
1 small bunch dill
Shell the shrimp carefully, starting at the tail end and working towards the head. Line up the shelled shrimp on a plate and refrigerate.
Red Currant Granita
Add water to the red currant juice until the sugar content reaches 12˚ on a refractometer. Freeze in containers, and when frozen scrape to a powder with a fork.
Pick the dill leaves off the stems and blanch for 5 minutes in salted water. Cool in ice water and dry completely on paper. Add the oil and process in a Thermomix at 80ºC -180ºF. If you don’t have a Thermomix just use a blender.
Cream and Dill Oil
Mix all the ingredients and keep in the refrigerator until five minutes before serving.
Reduce the bread to small crumbs, fry in butter and cool. Pick the herbs into ice water, tehn dry.
Take the cold plate of shrimp out of the refrigerator as late as possible. Sprinkle the herbs and fried breadcrumbs on top, then add the cream and dill oil and the granita. Finally sprinkle salt over the granita and prawns.
Camilla Plum’s Preserved Tomatoes
Makes 2 Kilner jars
675g (1lb 8ozs) approximately very ripe tomatoes
5-6 basil leaves
3-4 tablespoons (4-5 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of Maldon sea salt
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 x 2 pint sterilised Kilner glass jars with lids.
Cut the big tomatoes – leave small ones whole. Stuff them in the Kilner jars and press tight. Add the extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon herb or Maldon sea salt, cloves of garlic and a sprig of basil. Close and seal the jars and bake at 110ºC/225°F/Gas Mark 1/4 until tomatoes are soft (3-4 hours) or until the tomatoes have softened and are cooked.
Camilla Plum’s Verbena, Chilli, Ginger and Lemon Thyme Sugar
1 handful Moroccan mint
3 big handfuls fresh lemon verbena, leaves stripped off the stalks
1 inch knob of ginger chopped
2 tablespoons lemon thyme
2-3 Kaffir lime leaves if available
1 fistful of lemon basil
250-450g (9oz) sugar
Put the leaves into the food processor; add ginger and lemon thyme leaves plus a couple of kaffir lime leaves if you have them. Add 110g (4oz) of sugar, whizz until blended, add rest of sugar and whizz another second, one can add less or more sugar.
Spread out on a tray or platter. Leave to dry for 5-6 days even a week or use immediately.
For a hot drink
Pour boiling water over about a tablespoon of the Verbena Sugar in a glass, add lemon juice to taste.
For a cold drink.
Add flat or sparkling water and lemon juice, add some rum if you fancy.
Slow Food Apple and Craft Cider Festival 2013 Friday to Sunday 22nd September 2013.
This year there will be twelve Irish producers making more than twenty craft ciders. Apple-pressing and cider-making demonstrations, juice bar and family barbecues, spit-roasts and tapíní (that’s tapas Irish style!)… Children can catch The Orchard Special a train around the Apple Farm At the Apple Farm, Moorstown, Cahir, Co Tipperary – email@example.com
Catch the last two days of the Waterford Harvest Festival today and tomorrow. The local Slow food movement will operate an indoor producers market at 44 Merchants Quay with lots of interesting exhibits e.g. milking goats, traditional cream separator, farmhouse butter churn. Visitors can look forward to great bargains, wonderful tastes and interesting demonstrations like soap making or how to make your own chocolate truffles. Each day there are Slow food guided tours to local artisan food producers where you can learn their story and the provenance of these very special foods. Book your seat early as seats are limited. Information and booking on www.waterfordharvestfestival.ie
The 2013 GIY Gathering takes place during the Waterford Harvest Festival today at 10am to 5pm and tomorrow from 10:30am to 3:30pm at the Tower Hotel in Waterford and brings together some of the world’s leading food growing advocates, experts and writers for two days of inspiring and practical debate, discussion, talks and workshops. Speakers include Foodopoly author Wenonah Hauter, ‘no-dig’ guru Charles Dowding, River Cottagers Mark Diacono and Steve Lamb, BBC presenter Alys Fowler, Guardian food writer Tom Maggoch, author Joy Larkcom, Darina Allen, RTE TV growing gurus Ella McSweeney, Fiann O’Nuallain and Kitty Scully, and John and Sally McKenna. The theme of this year’s GIY Gathering is “Food Empathy”, that is, the deeper understanding of food, where it comes from, how it is produced, and the time and effort required, that arises when people grow some of their own food.