My family and food

The Irish Times: We Love Food – Hannah Bates, online advertising


I love everything food-related; cooking, eating, reading and entertaining . . . but it wasn’t always the case.

My mother recalls one of our first family holidays to a few of the Greek islands when I was three. For the two weeks we were there, I refused to eat anything other than Greek yogurt and crispy bread – eating the yoghurt as a dip, I could get through a whole loaf in one sitting.

Growing up, I was surrounded by food. My dad, Eddie Bates, was a chef, and ran a few restaurants in his time, so food and cooking was a huge part of our family life. As a kid I loved going to see Dad in the restaurant – I was given little jobs to keep me busy and would wander around the tables chatting to the customers.

On a couple of occasions in Capers, Nassau street, when someone called in sick, both parents had to work. One day, I remember being brought up to the storeroom for a nap. When Dad came to check on me a while later he found me beside the freezer, covered in mango and pistachio ice cream – I understood the perks from a very early age!

Christmas was a huge event in the family calendar and always revolved around food. It would start with a huge delivery of all our favourites coming to the house; from lychees to Leonidas chocolates. The struggle was where to store it all, and post-Christmas you would always find something hidden at the back of the fridge.

In our house, Christmas day always starts with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with a glass of Buck’s Fizz. We never had a turkey dinner until I was in my 20s – it was always a feast of options, from monkfish to rabbit, and could last hours. As a kid I would hate this, because the rule was I couldn’t open any presents until after dinner.

This year will be no different; I’ll spend most of Christmas day in the kitchen with those important to me and a glass of vino close by. We’re opting for a traditional dinner of turkey and beef with all the trimmings, including my favourites – Yorkshire pudding and stir fried sprouts in sesame seed oil – and until it’s over, the present-giving will take a back seat.

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