Some of the greatest literature in the world has been written by... food writers.
If you think there is no more to food writing than the recipe 'n' restaurant concoctions of the weekend newspapers, then John McKenna's course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, on Saturday 27th February, will be a revelation. Discovering the world of superb prose stylists and scholar-cooks such as M.F.K. Fisher, Richard Olney, Patience Gray, Wendell Berry, Diana Henry, Marcella Hazan, Alice Waters and many others shows a world where food occupies a central aspect of our literary culture. Whether your ambition is simply to write a blog, or to write your masterpiece, then knowing the work of these great writers is one of the keys to understanding the artfulness and greatness that lies in writing about food.
But the course is also extremely practical. As publisher of The Bridgestone Guides, Sally McKenna will discuss how to create everything from the simplest blog to the mechanism behind lighting food for photography, or mastering page layout for your own book.
This is only one of a year full of masterful classes in the inimitable Ballymaloe Cookery School. If you are looking for a last minute Christmas present for a friend, then which food lover couldn't be delighted with a day's learning under the tutorship of some of the world's most gifted cooks, including Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamini, or chef Jean Pierre Moulle from Chez Panisse. It's a mark of Ballymaloe's extraordinary standing that Darina can persuade chefs like this to come and demonstrate in Ireland.
Other courses include Home Butchery, Charcuterie and Sausage Making with Philip Dennhart, and a pizza class with the same chef. There are kids classes, foraging classes, and their Sushi made Simple course with Shermin Mustafa, a class we attended this year only to discover Shermin had some wonderful Turkish recipes to share as well as a wealth of sushi knowledge. For details of all the Ballymaloe classes check out www.cookingisfun.ie.