To be fair, it’s not the first time that brioche has been called cake.
That famous quip attributed to the ill-fated Marie Antoinette, “qu’ils mangent de la brioche,” is most often translated to great dramatic effect as “let them eat cake.”
Brioche - is it bread or is it cake?
(image from Flickr member Arnold Inuyaki licensed under Creative Commons)
It seems that the Revenue Commissioners, in what they are calling a ‘clarification’ of the current VAT rules, have decided that brioche might as well be cake, because it will now attract VAT, as cakes do, at 13.5%, whereas previously it would have been classified along with bread, which escapes the VAT net. And it’s not just brioche: other items, such as croissants, bagels and even garlic bread are no longer sufficiently bread-like to qualify for zero VAT status. Really.
This came to my attention as I was leaving the hallowed halls of Trinity College, which had been the venue for the Bord Bia Irish Food & Drink Industry Awards last week. I happened upon Suzanne Campbell, who was discussing the issue and how it would hit small bakery businesses, with William Despard of the Bretzel Bakery (he who had made such an impression at the recent Savour Kilkenny Foodcamp). William was understandably exercised about the VAT hike.
If you want to see a man get exercised about potatoes, just suggest to Stephen Hennessy of The Boxty Bakers that his boxty slices are like a bit like potato waffles.
The poor man who said as much to Stephen at this weekend’s Taste of Christmas event didn’t realise quite the passion that Stephen has for his boxty slices, a traditional product which he would consider far superior to your typical potato waffle. It is, I would expect, unlikely that the gentleman who made the unfortunate waffle comparison came from Leitrim.
People who hail from that particular neck of the woods, including The Boxty Bakers themselves, don’t need to be told about boxty. Even as the gentleman to my right was being enlightened in the matter of boxty versus waffles, a lady to my left declared her Leitrim connections and chatted with Stephen about her own family’s traditions, which included the use of a nail to punch holes into pieces of metal which were then used to grate the raw potato needed for large boxty batches.
Not waffles but boxty
I was just on my way out the door last Thursday when I heard it first. Right at the end of the Morning Ireland radio show on RTE.
The interviewee was Lorcan Bourke from Bord Bia and the subject was spuds – specifically, that our renowned Irish love of the tuber was on a downward trajectory, at least if the steady decline in spud sales was anything to go by. I, needless to remark, was all ears.
I mean seriously folks, what's not to love?