Mixing food culture and making friends.
I am Katharina from Austria, Vienna, and will be a guest writer for today. I feel honoured to have the chance to do so. Charlotte and I shared the last 10 months in Italy together at the University of Gastronomic Sciences and I am pleased to experience another highlight together with her: the Dartmouth Food Festival.
We both came here the first time in June with some other students from our class to explore Devon’s food world. David and Holly hosted us for the week in their beautiful house as guests, but they hosted us like friends and introduced us to their other friends and into the region’s food culture. We were amazed by the delicious products (from seafood to cheddar cheese), outstanding food-projects (from Transition Town Totnes to Dartmouth Food Festival) and the passionate farmers (from the fish auction to organic beef breeding) all around the area. Above all, Kingswear and Dartmouth were already in the middle of the preparations for the Dartmouth Food Festival which will be held next weekend. From David’s first short description of what the festival is about it sounded like a gorgeous event, and as a Foodie and Slow Food member I am very much interested in projects like that. Combining local, regional food with its traditions and experiencing it in many imaginable ways, both at the same time. I decided I wanted to come to the festival, if there was any chance to do so, and yes: here I am.
After a couple of gorgeous weeks in Somerset where I did my internship on an apple farm to get to know everything about traditional British cider production I arrived only a couple of days ago, but have so many impressions already now, let’s share just my “today” with you:
David & Holly’s house has changed a little bit since my last visit back in June. It’s crowded with food and things that go together with food in any way. The “slow talks” about the upcoming event in June changed to hands-on rush movement here. While I was packing different boxes for several upcoming events in the next days (including everything which probably might be needed at the stalls, from plastic gloves and napkins to disinfection sprays and paper cups), in the morning, the telephone was ringing continuously.
People would also ring the bell at the door and bring things in and take things out. In between, Charlie, who is helping David with the marquees would come around to talk about festival structure in detail. The kitchen – especially the oven – will not stop working. David is doing traditional Austrian rye bread (thank you sooo much) while Holly is baking all the sweet delicacies in between all the other things they have to organize. Double chocolate brownie is my “word of the day”, as I packed and wrapped around 300 today.
But it’s just a little help regarding all the other things that are happening here. It seems as Holly & David have each become five hands and at least three legs since my last visit. And Charlotte? Well, I thought we might spend a little time together – just for a 20 minute walk somewhere between all the things going on, but no chance, too busy and well, to be honest: today I just saw her for lunch, around 30 minutes, even though we are living in the same house. But one thing we all do together here – having a lovely lunch in the middle of the rush. A quiet, peaceful island in between all the things mentioned (and now please just try to paint a picture in your head, well: that’s just the tip of the iceberg)
So comfort food is definitely needed. And there’s a lot of comfort food in Austria. One of this is “Semmelknödel mit Schwammerlsauce”, which might sound fancy for someone not used to German cuisine but is just a dish made out of simple ingredients: Breadcrumbs, butter, a little bit of hot milk, onions, parsley and passion. Passion for rolling the dumplings. The sauce could be made out of everything which is in season, for example asparagus, or lentils in winter, but also any kind of mushrooms. So I chose white mushrooms. 45 minutes of “off-time”, meditation and chill out while preparing. 45 minutes of sharing a little bit of Austria in and with the UK. I feel so much at home here and as I served the meal and we all were experiencing the same flavour but with a different background. “Wunderbar” was the other word of the day, thank you David.
Having those 30 minutes of lunch break, sharing my roots was a great experience. And now I am very much looking forward to sharing the UK’s traditions at the Dartmouth food festival.
A lot of work, a lot of passion, a lot of events and – of course – a lot of high quality food will be served within the next days.
One year of work lies behind the effort of the people who are involved and only one more day to go. And they did such a perfect work so far.
Everybody is excited, I am excited too.There’s just one thing which I am not sure about – the British weather.
Let’s do a sun dance together!