The Galway Food Festival is coming. It is good for Galway. But it has not been easy. And all hearts have not yet been won.
The intention of the festival is to create a city and county that prides itself in its food, a city that works together for the greater good of the food community. Little and large. Big and small. Producer and supplier. Restaurant, bar and café. All of these links in the chain count. And if anything, I hope this year’s festival shows us the importance of food provenance, where our food comes from, and what, if anything we can do with the greater Galway terroir, city and county.
With the program printed and with over 70 participating partners, a great deal of the hard work is done. The talk series are organised to highlight the key issues that we feel concern Galway and its relation to the food industry and global food trends.
Galway is a city in the world. We have to start looking at it that way; look outside for greater inspiration to make Galway a better destination for food tourism. People want the best. They want to know the how and why of food. They want to meet makers. What else can we do? A lot more.
Bind ourselves together as one large good food organism and network across the Internet to cement the city’s reputation. We also need more transparency. I go through my days reading more and more food books, looking for greater and greater inspiration. Why? To find new and exciting ways to make and present food. But also to revisit the old – bread, butter, bacon… Things we take for granted. How many of us have made our own butter? Not many, I would say. But we all need to reach out and touch these things once in our lives.
Go out and pick some wild garlic, or some seaweed. You’ll find a connection with the natural world that you never knew you had. But it’s not that you never have done it. It’s hard wired into your brain. We have foraged and hunted for far longer than we have been civilised into farms and towns and countries. 100,000 years longer, give or take.
Of course it’s hard. We have little time. But that’s not to say you can’t put your trust in others. I know many a good wild mushroom picker and forager. It’s about working together. Sharing our talents and our skills. That will make Galway a great food destination. It’s not enough just to be good. We have to push ourselves. Work harder. Support smaller.
The recent horse meat scandal has forced us to rethink our position with regards to food provenance. To ask more questions. To possibly spend more on the products we value. We are what we eat, in terms of culture, in terms of history, in terms of society.
Five years from now, I hope that the food festival will be up there with other great Galway festivals, such as the Film Fleadh and the Galway Arts Festival. We need to bring the best to Galway, to not only show them our own local and global cuisine, but also for them to teach others the tools of their trade.
The Americans, the Germans, the French, the Danes, the Japanese, the Spanish – All of these food cultures can help our own grow locally, from the farmer to the festival. Keep on working on all. That is what the late Gerry Galvin told me. You won’t win them all. But over time, hopefully you’ll win a few more. Well here’s to this year’s Galway Food Festival; here’s to Gerry!