Seasonal suppers: where we imagine food comes from

Seaweed from Japan, croissants from France - marketing has a lot to answer for

The mythology of food feeds itself into every aspect of our lives. Most of this mythology we all now call marketing. It is not possible to eat and not digest a mouthful of marketing. Think about anything you ate today or yesterday. Of course, hunger is our greatest desire, but most of us never experience hunger on any given day. We eat because we want to experience food. This can be something as simple as a croissant and coffee.

For many of us this type of breakfast is associated with France. We have images of people going to the bakery and picking up a freshly baked croissant. While this still happens, most croissants that are produced and sold in France come straight out of a factory with little or no manual handling. This is not the image used to sell croissants. Furthermore, this is not the image that comes to mind when we pick up a croissant that was more than likely par-baked elsewhere and finished in a petrol station, hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away.

A similar mythology governs our idea of food culture in Ireland. What is Irish food? Lamb stew and potatoes? Both of these are minuscule in terms of the length of time people have populated the island of Ireland. We lived on raw fish and seaweed for 2,000 years before the advent of farming. For many people raw fish and seaweed evoked images of Japan. This is part of another mythology. Croissants for the French; seaweed for the Japanese.

I find seaweed immensely more interesting than croissants. It is an absolute super food. In its dried form (dillisk and kelp), you can add it to potato soup to make a vitamin- and mineral-rich supper.


Fry off some garlic and onion in butter with rosemary and thyme. Add some chopped peeled potatoes. Cover with water and cook. Before blending add two tablespoons of dried seaweed, some cream and sea salt. Blend and serve.