Wednesday 20 April 2016

Irish in the kitchen

We were up in Dublin Saturday Night and Sunday Morning for a family birthday: the perp was aged 70 not 7 so there was no cake and none of the boys ate the candles for a dare. On the way down the street to the venue we fell to talking about Dublin coddle, which we all agreed was not one of Ireland's culinary triumphs.  There are a number of variants on the theme of onion, cabbage and potatoes in Irish cooking [nobody would call this stuff cuisine]:
  • champ - potatoes and scallions with butter, milk, or buttermilk
    • as thick as champ = a dullard; ignorant as champ at a wedding = boorish
  • boxty - a pancake of grated spuds, buttermilk, flour, egg;  fried.  Not a million miles from latkes, драники, cmunda, nálečníky,or Reiebekuchen
    • boxty on the griddle
    • boxty in the pan
    • if you can't make boxty
    • you'll never hold your man
  • colcannon - spuds and kale [or cabbage] and lurry in the butter and full cream milk
    • Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
    • With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
    • Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
    • Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?
    • [sung with full harmonies by Mary Black and others]
  • coddle - a stew made of boiled rashers, sausage, spuds and onions
    • traditionally including pearl barley [glarrrk]
    • it is left-over dish, traditionally served on Thursday to clear the pantry for Friday fishday; so you can lash in whatever you find in [or behind] the fridge and nobody will be any the wiser
As we strolled partywards M said that the little beige blobs of sausage that she found in coddle always made her think intestines. Even the best Irish sausage is heavily adulterated with cheaper ingredients [rusk, meal, sweepings] than the lips, hooves and wobbly-bits that go into, say, Polish sausage.  But, like the Irish Spice Burger, these sausages are designed to be tasty and they are. Me, I'd rather have my sausages [and rashers too] fried to buggery and served on the side.

One of the most extraordinary changes in fortune for a vegetable is that experienced by kale in recent years. Its huge dark green fibrous leaves were forever seen as fit only for animals to eat - or at a stretch eaten by the peasants who minded the cattle and sheep. With the Portuguese, I've had a long-time affection for kale as an essential ingredient of caldo verde - a dish which I could happily eat every day for the rest of my life. Now kale has become [€4/kg] money and is a) widely available shredded in bags from supermarkets b) featured in unlikely settings by celebrity chefs.  Google up "kale and . . ." and the big G suggests "kale and banana smoothie" . . . with almond milk.  Holy Mrs Beeton, what has the world come to?!

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