Thursday 14 December 2017

TV chef gets taste buds tingling

The great Irish gra for the potato is an oft-bandied cliche, but just how accurate is it today?

Our palates have widened, our restaurant scene has broadened and the humble spud is no longer the only carb in the Irish diet.

Pasta has become a mainstay in Irish households. In fact, most of us could rustle up a bolognaise better than we could a boxty. And that's before we get into pizza and fish and chips (though, I'm not sure if the latter really counts).

Indeed, our love affair with Italian food shows no signs of fizzling out, which would explain why Italianophile TV chef Catherine Fulvio is back on the small screen with a second series.

Having explored the cuisine of Sicily in her debut programme, she now turns her attention to the gastronomical centre that is Rome.

The format hasn't changed a lot. Part homage to the city, part celebration of its food, she meets with both award-winning chefs and local families. Add three guided recipes and serve.


Last night Catherine paid a visit to La Rosetta, arguably Rome's best seafood restaurant, and found out how the Roman speciality of baccala (salted cod) is prepared.

To discover how Roman families eat (or rather, how they eat when an Irish film crew visits), she met with her friend, Susan Cross, who has settled in Rome with her husband, Mauritzio.

While Susan's inamorato was busy cooking dinner, the two women talked about love and romance in the Italian capital.

Poor old Mauritzio was given all the credibility of a child who was making his mother a cup of tea for the first time.

"He's doing so well that myself and Susan dress the table and have a chat," said Catherine. "No fear of Mauritzio slacking, that's for sure."

Were the genders reversed, equality campaigners would be up in arms.

To be fair, though, there was no offence meant. Her voiceovers just have a tendency to sound like dodgy radio commercials. "Almost too good to eat. Well, I did say almost...," she trilled when she tasted her spoils.

Otherwise, she's very likeable. Her enthusiasm is infectious and she has an air of mischievousness, which makes her all the more endearing.

What I particularly like about Fulvio is that she has bucked the trend and resisted sexing up her programme. Despite being compared to Nigella, there's no sucking of fingers, licking of lips or brazen sexual innuendo.


Like her cooking style, her tone is practical and accessible and her passion is strictly only for the food.

Equally passionate is chef Neven Maguire, who was among eight entrepreneurs profiled in last night's Entrepreneur Of The Year.

Though the show's purpose was to profile the nominees for the competition, it instead focused on businesses that are succeeding in spite of the recession. Refreshingly, the talk was all of silver linings and green shoots.

It's only when you watch an uplifting programme like this that you realise how overwhelmed we are with the complete opposite.

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