Feeds of Our Fathers

I do like a decent feed now and again.

In Ireland, there are still too many places that tend towards ‘all you can eat’-style stodge. The culture of stuffing oneself -where the only criterion of an enjoyable meal is being unable to move at the end of it – persists, and you often hear people talking of a ‘great big plate’ of this or that. I have often wondered what this view of one’s meals says about one’s view of money.

In Catalonia, a place perhaps more used to wealth than Ireland, food portions aspire towards delicate sufficiency.

Comparisons between styles of service is instructive. Perhaps contrary to expectations, service in Catalonia is unhurried, unrefined, tending towards inefficient, whereas in Irish restaurants, service maintains a high degree of cordiality and attentiveness, with lots of visible activity. Yet I find that the latter type of service induces an anxiety to shut up and eat.

It feels like the main difference can be described as follows: in Catalonia, you are there to enjoy a meal. In Ireland, you are there to get fed.

When the waiter in Barcelona asks you if you would like coffee, there is no hidden message. In Ireland, the offer of coffee still holds an implicit message that it’ll soon be time for you to fuck off. More mouths to feed, you understand.

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October 2005

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