Wednesday 17 January 2018

Labour TD suggests putting caviar on the Dail menu

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

Coalition TDs were talking of cracking open the caviar in Leinster House yesterday.

And it wasn't champagne socialists like Pat Rabbitte tucking into the luxury delicacy. The guilty parties were rank-and-file Labour backbenchers and they were inspired not by their referendum prospects but by leading chef Darina Allen.

It's part of a drive for deputies to bring their local food to the Dail restaurant, and trout caviar -- created in Thomastown in Co Kilkenny -- was suggested by a local TD from that area.

The idea came during a presentation by Ms Allen to TDs and senators, MPs and lords from Westminster, as well as Assembly members from Northern Ireland, who were all gathered in the Seanad chamber for the British-Irish parliamentary assembly.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Health Minister James Reilly also addressed the gathering, and they were so dull some attendees diplomatically blamed the heat for the air of doziness during their speeches.

But before the bigwigs arrived, Ms Allen -- owner of the Ballymaloe cookery school in Cork -- suggested TDs should do their bit to promote their own local produce, bringing some food to the Dail for everyone else to eat.

Labour's Ann Phelan suggested she might bring in some caviar from her constituency, but said she could get pilloried because of the perception that "politicians should all be on bread and water these days".

But Ms Allen soothingly reassured the Carlow-Kilkenny TD she wasn't being a show off.

"You don't need to justify your caviar -- you're supplying a product in your constituency," she said.

A booming Scottish Labour MP, Jim Sheridan, stood up next and told Ms Allen he was once unfortunate enough to stay at home and subjected himself to daytime television.

He expanded on his point to describe his dislike for celebrity chefs, and said: "Some of the cookery programmes are an absolute nightmare."

He also described such shows, and other daytime television fare, as a "conspiracy to get people back to work".

Perhaps one of our TDs or senators whispered in his ear and told him about Ms Allen's own cookery show, 'Simply Delicious', and the blossoming career of her daughter-in-law, Rachel Allen -- TV show host, author and general celebrity chef.

We hope Ms Allen isn't the sensitive type. And, anyway, the Scots aren't renowned for their culinary expertise. We doubt Darina and Rachel teach people in Ballymaloe how to deep-fry a Mars bar.

Irish Independent

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