Dublin gastronomy symposium olive oil tasting


When we hear the word ‘gastronomy’, we often imagine some very complicated dishes, using expensive and exotic ingredients, and requiring lengthy and laborious preparation. One of the definitions of gastronomy, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is ‘the art and knowledge involved in preparing and eating good food’. Simple food can also be good food.

I spent a thoroughly enjoyable two days this week at the Dublin Gastronomy Symposium. The topic this year was ‘Food and Memory:Traces, Trauma and Tradition’. I was privileged to listen to many thought provoking lectures and presentations, and to enjoy interesting and stimulating conversations, all revolving around, probably my favourite topic, food.

The conversation was accompanied by good food, of course. But the gala dinner at The King’s Inns in Dublin on the closing night, brought home the fact that gastronomy doesn’t have to be elaborate or complex. When the menu is well thought out, and the ingredients are well sourced, properly prepared, and simply cooked, the eating experience can be sublime.


If you are Irish or have Irish connections, my guess is that the photo above will bring back some memories for you. Butterhead lettuce, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, scallions, beetroot, and salad cream were the usual ingredients in many Irish salads over the years.

You might be surprised to hear that this ‘Granny’s Summer Salad’ was served as a starter at the closing dinner of the symposium. However, it perfectly fitted in with the topic of ‘Food and Memory’. Suddenly, everyone at the table began discussing their memories of their own childhood salads and the grannies, mammies and aunties who prepared them.

For me, it brought back memories of going out to our suburban back garden, to collect freshly laid eggs from our hens, and to pick lettuce and scallions. In summer we had our own tomatoes from our little greenhouse, and the beetroot was often home grown and pickled by my Mam. The salad cream, however, was a must and always came from a jar!


The main course of roast lamb was simply served with floury new potatoes, carrots and garden peas. The gravy was flavoursome and the mint sauce was freshly made and reminded me of my own mother’s mint sauce, that would usually be made at the last minute with mint fresh from the little herb garden right outside the kitchen door.


The dessert couldn’t have been simpler. Sweet, ripe, Wexford strawberries, served with pouring cream and caster sugar. I never put sugar on my strawberries these days, but I remember dipping them in sugar when I was a child.

This dish brought back memories of childhood summer birthday parties in the garden, when my Mam served home grown strawberries to my friends in little paper bowls. The sun always seemed to shine in July back then, and strawberries were always a special treat because they were not available year round from the supermarket.


I didn’t get photos of the rest of the meal, but the mackerel amuse bouche reminded me of early mornings on the pier at Howth, fishing with my Dad.

And while the soda bread was good, it wasn’t as good as my Mam’s!

What are your food memories?


If you are interested in learning more about the Dublin Gastronomy Symposium, you can click on the link below. All of the papers are available to download and read in full. They cover a myriad of topics and I will certainly be delving further into many of them myself.

Dublin Gastronomy Symposium

If you would like to learn more about how to use herbs to enhance the taste, appearance and nutritional value of your food, you might enjoy my Cooking with Herbs Online Workshop. 

Cooking with Herbs Online Workshop

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