My idea of a holiday is about where and what I will eat. Pre Covid even returning home to Ireland my thoughts would be about new restaurants, different parts of the country to visit while seeking out the best coffee or scones. It’s been almost 2 years now since I was in Ireland never mind anywhere else. Even here in Malta, the pleasure of dining out is gone between overpriced, mediocre food, topped with covid protocols and endless cigarette smoke being blown over your dinner as you try to go al fresco while others think everyone loves nicotine with their entree.
I truly feel for the hospitality industry, particularly in Ireland where they have sacrificed more than their counterparts in other European countries with lockdowns and limitations. Some have been able to rise and adapt while others cannot for many different reasons. It has been a real shame to see the brilliant lively food culture of Ireland from producers to restaurants and bars brought to their knees. A country that loves nothing more than a gathering of friends over a pint with banter, music, and laughter filling the air. If you have ever sat in Doolin, pint in front of you hovering over a seafood platter while pipers and fiddle players rock out tunes you will know what I’m talking about. Or sitting in Bosco’s at Skerries harbour on a sunny day for lunch. It’s pure magic.
A light lunch in Skerries, North County Dublin.
But alas this year almost two years since the photo above was taken, we shall return to Ireland under very different circumstances and for a very different type of holiday. The 5-week gourmet feeding frenzy travelling around meeting great characters, trying artisan foods and dining out in all manner of places will not happen. And I shall sorely miss it as will my son who loves the whole experience. Coffee and cake are a stable on our journey through the towns and counties. We shall long for an excursion while holding our nerve and resisting all temptation so that we do not expose ourselves or others to anything untoward. A hard task, for a person that embraces the food and hospitality industry.
So our holiday will be about family and family food. The food I can’t get here, the food only my daddy, auntie Maudie or sister can make. The bbq only my brother can do. Those kinds of foods. We shall eat things we have craved, that we cannot get in Malta like good sausages, Irish Tea, grass-fed lamb, seafood chowders, the best scones in the world. It will be a gathering of family and family favourites on the table. I am co-hosting a lunch for my siblings, and already all my fancy ideas have been thrown out the window for simple family food. It will indeed be a different kind of food holiday. But as my son said recently “as long as I can have one of papa’s dinners I’m grand”. There is no fear of that not happening anyway. My normal list of restaurants to try has been replaced with crazy things like cocktail sausages, apache pizza, a proper pint, papas cauliflower cheese and Auntie Maudie’s dinners. The good things in life.
So fingers crossed we get to and from safely. To the endless numbers in hospitality, I will miss your offerings and service. Keep the faith, hang in there and we will be back to make up for all the delights we have missed when all the madness is over.