By Charlotte Okonji
In today’s Dublin where poverty, homelessness and hunger are widespread, yet food wastage is rampant, the challenge is to inspire consumers to become more open minded and more creative when it comes to their eating habits. This is precisely what the team at Dundrum’s Airfield Estate got to grips with on Friday 9th September, when they hosted what will hopefully become a regular event: The Trash Bash Supper, an evening designed to promote ethical food management. The night’s objective? To prove to the buying public that those blackened bananas sitting in the fruit bowl, or the wilted lettuce forgotten at the bottom of the fridge may not be aesthetically perfect, but they are still, literally, good enough to eat.
Airfield Estate, a 38 acre working farm, café and charitable organisation, was established with the aim of encouraging visitors to forge a deeper connection with the land, farming and food, and most importantly, to understand the journey from field to dining table. The test was whether they could educate the public in a way that was engaging and fun, rather than something reminiscent of your mother scolding you for not clearing your plate, when there are millions of starving children in some far flung corner of the globe. The Trash Bash succeeded in doing this through a combination of clever, innovative food preparation, live music and an army of knowledgeable team members who were on hand throughout the night to chat, give advice and discuss the value of “reloved” food: food donated by a number of suppliers, including supermarkets, which would otherwise end up in a landfill.
Genevieve, the estates commercial manager, revealed that although the public perception of eating food that was destined for the trash is mainly negative, slowly but surely consumers seem to be coming around to the idea that “best before” dates are merely guides not rigid rules, a bruised apple is not a health hazard, nor is a banana which is not curved to the desired degree.
The evening kicked off at 7pm, with guests being greeted by the Airfield Food Rescue Team at the front gate. After being escorted to a Tepee marquee, we were presented with a selection of canapes and dips, all created out of unwanted vegetables and cheeses, washed down with a refreshingly tart Rhubarb (non-alcoholic) cocktail. The pesto, made from carrot and turnip tops, was a star in its own right and complimented the crisp crudité perfectly. Shot glasses filled with surprisingly meaty and flavoursome bone broth followed, and this was followed in turn by the main event: Billy goat tagine. As Genevieve pointed out, goats cheese is incredibly popular, but Irish society is by and large averse to eating goat meat. After tasting the tagine however, I wold say that there will be a serious spike in goat meat sales in Dublin this week. Served with couscous speckled with tiny jewel like pieces of roasted vegetables, the goat meat was tender and juicy. The aroma alone was absolutely mouth-watering, and there was a near stampede of hungry guests to the live cooking station once the brief speeches ended and the dinner gong was sounded. Accompanied by a foraged and rescued green salad, homemade ricotta cheese, and still-fresh rustic loaf, generous portions of tasty tagine were washed down with bottles of craft beer. As the live music commenced, seasonal fruit compote and scone crumble served with brown bread ice cream was dished out, and despite numerous belts being loosened in between mouthfuls of tagine (mine included), it was just too good to refuse.
At 10pm, as we slowly made our way into the unseasonably cold night to the distant strains of drum beat, we did so with a new appreciation and understanding of what is edible, and a vow to save those scabby apples, scarred potatoes and knobbly carrots from the compost bin. Rather than unwanted and unappealing, they will now be seen as the makings of a unique and enjoyable evening of laughter, food and friendship in our own homes.
For information on future events see http://www.airfield.ie/