About this Cailín...

Hi.  My name is Ruth McKenna and I'm Irish.  The word 'Cailín' means 'girl' in the Irish language and so, I am the hungry girl. It is true, I am almost always hungry.  I wake up hungry, already thinking about breakfast, my day moving from meal to meal.

My darling (and very smart) mother pointed out that if I keep talking about how hungry I am all the time people will start sending me food parcels for the tape worm I seem to have, so I had better clarify.  As I already mentioned, I am Irish.   We have a history of famine in my country.  In the mid 1800's we had what was called 'The Gorta Mór', or Great Hunger.  At this point in our history, we relied on potatoes for almost 90% of our calorie intake and so when a potato blight came in 1845, it precipitated disaster, decimating our population.  One million people died, two million more emigrated in the next two decades, in the hope of food and work in far flung lands.   So, we as a nation and me as an Irish Cailín have a bit of a grá for food (that's 'love' for those of you who aren't Irish).  We have a genetic predisposition to gaining weight (the curse of the famine gene) and above all, we hate to have an empty pantry. We are, on the whole, obsessed with food...and weather, but that's another story.

Having spent years working in the world of design and architecture, I felt that it didn't really tick my boxes.  The very expensive kitchens that I designed and sold, while beautifully made, didn't seem to me to be all that important.  The beautiful buildings I had a share in making reality seemed soulless and unnecessary to me.  I wanted to help people understand food, see what power it has to heal and find real purpose for myself.  After a few years procrastinating I finally made the leap, studied nutrition and have worked as a nutritional therapist, in various guises for the last 3 years.  I love it and have never regretted leaving my well paid job for a not so well paid but ultimately satisfying vocation.

So, not only do I love to eat, I particularly love to eat food that nourishes me, food that is vibrant and healthy and helps me to bounce out of bed in the morning. I think that food, the growing and purchasing, preparation and consumption of it is fascinating, not only that, it is vital.  Every day we learn something new about how food has the potential to nourish and heal us.  Herbs, spices, vegetables, 'superfoods' from the Amazon and further afield hold seemingly magical properties that have the potential to keep us alive and kicking into our 100's.  Without good food, we cannot keep going, it sustains and nourishes us.

For me, preparing food is an act of love and sitting together in community, whether that be family or friends, to break bread, is the most simple act of friendship. 

I'm about to begin a new adventure, spending 2 years in Malmö, Sweden with my husband, the 'mountain man', who has gifted me with an amazing opportunity to observe and learn from another food  culture.  Do Swedes sit together to break bread? Is it important to them? Do they value artisan food producers as we are beginning to in Ireland?  How much of their food is produced in their own country?  Have they experienced famine as we have?  How has their history, weather and geography affected their relationship with food?

This is exciting.  I am blessed with a gift I may never get again.

I get to stop.
I get to make conscious choices that fit.
I get to sample the best (and possibly worst) of Swedish food

Boy, am I excited.

I intend to eat (and cook) my way around Malmö.  I will recount my experiences here.  I hope you enjoy my stories.

Ruth x

If you want to contact me directly, email me ahungrycailininmalmo at gmail.com

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