Online Butcher Pat Whelan: Mothers Day

Since my last column for the paper I appeared on the telly!  I was on the TV3 sofa with Sybil Mulcahy and Martin King.  I can only assume that my diet and fitness regime are working as I was introduced to the viewers as the “the small butcher who’s thinking big”.   I was very amused by this and imagined that when the camera panned to me, the audience would be expecting someone very short in stature.

These days few people get excited about things but not me.  I wish I could pretend to be blasé and tell you that the whole thing was tedious but I can’t; the whole experience thrilled me and it really was great fun.  Maybe it is quite dull for someone who is used to being on TV but for me it was all shiny and new.  Now I’ve appeared on television before, but usually I am interviewed in my own surroundings, this time I had to go to the TV3 studios in Dublin.

You are probably wondering what they wanted with me.  One of the people we communicate with through our Twitter page, Adrian Shanahan, told TV3 about our website and on line meat offering.  In turn they felt it was newsworthy and also quite novel and so they called last week out of the blue and it caused quite a stir in the office.  To be honest when they contacted me I was a tad hesitant but it didn’t take long to convince me to go and I was very proud to fly the flag for Clonmel and for Tipp.

Now the strange thing about television is that the actual broadcast time is short and passes really quickly, but you have to be there ages before your slot so you get to drink in the whole thing.  Up close and personal nothing is really as it seems.  TV3 is a very modern studio and much of the tech stuff is controlled remotely so contrary to what you might think there are not lots of people behind cameras or running around with clipboards.  It is actually relatively relaxed and given time I’m sure you can forget you are on television and just get into chatting with the presenters.  Anyway it went well, I enjoyed it and it was great publicity for our website and a little bit of diversion from the normal week.

So with the excitement and glamour behind me it was back to business once more and thoughts of food.  Personally this week I am planning for Mothers Day which is coming up this Sunday.  I have two women to think of; my own mother and my wife; mother of our children.  Given that they are all under seven, they understand the concept of making it a special day for Mammy but they need my help to procure the gifts and help with arrangements.  Their idea of what their mother would like as a gift is often touching, sometimes crazy and other times quite ingenious.  In a recent pre shopping chat someone suggested that, “Mammy might like a new set of Star Wars Lego!”  (Mental note to self, “Teach the children to be less mercenary!”)

When it comes to my own mother I am finding it increasingly difficult to come up with fresh ideas for gifts come any occasion, but particularly Mothers Day.  I have friends who have echoed a similar sentiment.  Flowers, chocolates, ornaments are all great and suffice for a time but then suddenly they seem lame and inadequate.  Maybe you only feel this way once you become a parent yourself and suddenly you appreciate your own parents more.  Perhaps our gift anxiety is more about trying to repay, when really that is quite impossible.

I have recently discovered that what humans ultimately appreciate more than anything is simply time spent together.  A friend of mine who is in her late fifties concurs completely.  She pointed out that as an older woman she has everything she needs materially.  She has lost interest in collecting more stuff and is, in fact, giving things from her house to her adult children as she feels it is one less thing to dust.  She told me that at this point in her life she is collecting memories; days spent with her grandchildren, browsing shops with her daughters and, of course, long lazy family meals where they all get together to break bread and fellowship.

That conversation certainly gave me a fresh perspective.  What’s interesting is that the origin of mothering Sunday has its roots in that idea of family.  Traditionally girls in service at the big houses were allowed home to visit their mothers on one Sunday during Lent.  Commercialism, as with many other traditions, has wrestled the day from our hands and packaged it in flowers, schmaltzy poetry and expensive cards.  Obviously if you are out of the country there is little you can do but send the cards and flowers but if you are here then you could make a bigger effort to do something that costs time rather than money.

So this year I’ve decided to cook at home.  Many people like to take their mothers out for lunch on Mothers day and if you have a group of adults that may be fine.  Sadly with small children it is my least favourite option.  There is a false sense that it will be alright as they are usually well behaved for the first 20 minutes and then you spend the rest of the time trying to restrain them from running around the dining room or escaping and getting lost.  Someone always wants to go to the loo just as your dinner arrives to the table and inevitably there will be row, a spillage or some other potential calamity. Eating under such conditions is unpleasant for all, even the doting grandparents and that’s before you deal with the disapproving looks of the strangers around you.

The recipe below is ideal for a family lunch at home.  There are also plenty more on the website with ‘How to’ videos as well so no excuse for not creating the perfect Mothers Day meal this Sunday.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of  James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Food Market Monkstown and Avoca Rathcoole. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers

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