Trish Deseine taught the French to cook in the 1990s. She taught them about their own food at a time when a lot of the more affluent sorts had forsaken their kitchens for the convenience of entertaining with foie gras, toasted brioche and Champagne; or something good from the traiteur.
It was in The Winding Stair bookshop in Dublin (how appropriate) that I came across this very distinctive little cookbook, perhaps twenty years ago. It was the concept that appealed to me and so I bought it for little money (there is no price marked, alas but it was probably £2.50 or thereabouts).
David and Stephen Flynn could have ended up like the rest of their university contemporaries: as accountants or solicitors or something else that involves wearing a suit. But fate had something else in mind: firstly, taking over a greengrocers in Greystones, near Dublin and then opening a café (of which there are now two).
The tone is set, in a sense, by the first picture, before you come to any text at all. It’s of a tall Camelia, basking in Spring sunshine as it starts to surrender its petals, an upset galvanised bucket lying on its side in the foreground. Nothing has been primped or styled or made ready for the camera; there’s even a nascent sow thistle in the shade there.
Every chef and restauranteur wants to produce a cookbook. It’s a great mercy that most of them don’t manage to do so. Indeed, I remember asking the great Rowley Leigh (who not only cooks like an angel but writes like one too) if he had a new book in gestation.
Gubbeen is one of the famous names in Irish food, largely because Giana Ferguson started to make one of the country’s first and best farmhouse cheeses on the eponymous farm in West Cork way back when such things were truly pioneering, in 1975.