On a bright sunny day, while us millennials are enjoying our social media in the only room that receives Wi-Fi, a chipper woman in a blue bandana, a red tank top, and black capris walks through the door with a large white bucket containing green leaves spilling out the sides in each hand. This woman introduces herself as Johanna, who will be cooking meals for us as we stay at our ecovillage hostel. She gave a small introduction about herself and then went into detail about food around the ecovillage. Johanna shared how she got these leafy green vegetables from the local farmer who does not put a price on his produce. Instead, the shoppers must decide what the produce is worth, and he accepts the payment. Johanna informed us about each vegetable she has picked up and how she is going to make a delightful salad for us for lunch. Johanna picked up the buckets and headed to the kitchen where she seemed to put her heart and soul into every bit of food she plans to put on the table. Every plate is impossible to resist.
The more we studied the importance of food in Ireland and the influence it has on the culture, the more I understood Johanna’s joy in the kitchen. I felt it for the first time when my half of the class was asked to put a dinner on the table for 22 people. At first, it was a feeling of panic. What will we make? How do we accommodate the unique dietary restrictions? These were just a couple of the questions running through my head. Eventually, we came to the decision that we would make breakfast for dinner, an idea that everyone seemed to enjoy. We shopped in Centra, a local food store, and searched for foods that were made locally. The eggs, fruit and brown bread all came from local producers. The rashers (bacon), Irish black pudding, and the sausage were all Ireland meats, but we really could not pinpoint where they came from. The idea of shopping locally and supporting small businesses was always running through our minds, but we came to a point where we really just wanted enough food on the table to feed 22 hungry humans. After a ton of hard work in the kitchen, we put our meals on the table and awaited any criticism. Thankfully, everyone loved every part of the breakfast for dinner (especially the mimosas).
This experience of making dinner for a large group, allowed me to understand what Johanna feels every time she cooked for us to a certain extent. We immersed ourselves into the food for the sake of other people’s enjoyment. While in Ireland, I think this has been a huge difference than when in the United States. Every meal that is put in front of us seems to be made with so much pride and hope for the person to truly be happy while eating it. Food in Ireland is a large part of their culture and with every meal, it is proven that their pride in their country is endless.