In Praise of Food

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Welcome to Served On The Side from McCarthy’s. Thank you for joining us. This is a space where we hope to bring you our ramblings as often as the mood & creativity (simultaneously) strike. Hopefully, you’ll find it enjoyable. Above all, we want to share and spread our love of good food.

It seems of late the dialogue and mindset around food have turned almost toxic. Every calorie is analysed and critiqued to within an inch of its tasteless life. Meat and dairy products, in particular, are now getting as much bad press as deep-fried Mars Bars. The guilt people express at having a slice of birthday cake or an ice-cream on a sunny day can be deafening. We have forgotten the simple joy of good food and how to appreciate it. We’ve come full circle from an age where our ancestors had to go hunting and foraging at length in order to survive, to an era where we go to the gym in advance of eating, to work off the calories we are about to consume. Our lunch break can often be filled with everything else but lunch. I totally get that modern life is hectic, but the fact remains we all must eat so why does it feel like food is becoming the enemy?

Through Good Times and Bad

If you think back to some of the best times you’ve had, chances are there was food involved; a wedding, Christmas dinner, a first date, a beach trip or the delicious tea & toast in the labour ward as you gaze at your new arrival. Food helps create moments that create memories.  

If you think back to some of your more difficult times, food was there too. Chicken soup is a panacea for all illnesses, is it not? Almost every parent carries a sense of having directly contributed to their child’s CAO points haul because of the ‘good dinners’ put up in front of the student during exam time.

Culinary Pride

Yes, we are largely carnivores here at McCarthy’s. But more than that, we love all foods and everything that goes with them. We are currently anticipating the arrival of new season potatoes and the butter and salt are ready to go.

As a nation, we can all take great pride in the quality of our food and the skill of our food producers. Everyone worth their salt (sorry!) in the industry understands that food is part of our national brand. At McCarthy’s, we work with chefs, local food producers and restauranteurs every day and it’s obvious the process of producing and cooking good food is indeed an art. From the sourcing of ingredients through to the choice of sauce and wine to accompany a dish, each decision adds another layer to the overall experience at the table. Getting this culinary balance just right can be trickier than you’d think. The joy that empty plates returning to the kitchen must bring to those who’ve prepared the meal.

Of course, all of this is as much true for cooking at home as it is in a professional setting. The bringing together of friends or family at your table for a lazy breakfast or a Sunday Roast can demand all your attention to get it right. The trickiest part of all can be finding time to sit with your guests and resisting the urge to stay one course ahead of them. Please resist this. Sit with your guests. For those who don’t enjoy cooking or being the host, there’s a place in the kitchen at gatherings for you too; it’s at the sink! If you are lucky enough to have friends or family that cook well and enjoy entertaining, cherish those people in your life and always help with the clearing up!

Change the Food Record

There’s always a caveat. If you’re following specific dietary advice for medical reasons, do whatever you have to do. Health issues, food intolerances, digestive disorders etc. must all be obeyed and if you are regularly indulging in deep-fried Mars Bars, just stop!

Otherwise, try having a different conversation with yourself about your food. Celebrate good food. Immerse yourself completely, absolutely and unapologetically into preparing and eating your food. Savour the experience and try to take something away from it. Good food in the context of a well-balanced diet with reasonable portion sizes is to be enjoyed. Park the guilt as it only dilutes the pleasure.

Tuck in, lick your fingers, make memories. I’ll leave you with this thought.

“I got to thinking … about all those women on the Titanic who passed up dessert.” — Erma Bombeck

Bon Appetit.