A veritable institution in this region and a term of nonsense everywhere else in the country (when spelled ‘Blah’, that is), the Waterford Blaa received national recognition on Monday when four local bakers received a Euro-toques Food Awards in Dublin.

Hickey’s Bakery and MD Bakery in the city, Harney’s of Kilmacow and Barron’s of Cappoquin were praised for carrying on the Waterford tradition and continuing to produce the blaa in the traditional way without trying to commercialise the product or extend its shelf life by adding preservatives. Though the blaa has been produced in Waterford since the 1600s, this short shelf life has prevented it from traveling beyond the county.

Euro-toques is a Europe-wide chefs’ organisation which promotes high quality food production and culinary traditions. Almost 200 chefs are members of the Irish branch. This is the 12th year of the Euro-toques awards, which are now sponsored by Taste Festivals Ireland. At the award’s ceremony, Euro-toques commissioner general Lorcan Cribbin encouraged consumers to support quality local food.

One of Euro-toques’ founders, Myrtle Allen, said such awards were an enormous help to small but good entrepreneurs who
struggled to survive in the early years before making their name.

The awards were presented by Minister for Food Trevor Sargent, who questioned the sustainability of importing food from all over the world. He pointed to the importation “on a whim” of produce such as asparagus from Peru, garlic from Chile and mange tout from Kenya.