I had potatoes coming at me everywhere I turned. In Ireland, “and chips” is a phrase that annotates much more than fish.
For Frank Bruni, former New York Times restaurant critic and now Op-Ed columnist, the ubiquity of spuds in Ireland was a cliché confirmed, and, it seems, a tiresome one at that. He was writing in a recently published NY Times article about his first trip to Ireland, a journey which he often views through the prism of his late mother’s Irish ancestry – her love of the colour green is at last explained by the greens of the Irish landscape, encounters with gregarious and welcoming inn keepers identify Ireland as the source of her chattiness and storytelling, her temperament is echoed by the frequently changing moods of the Irish weather.
His mother’s Irishness, however, clearly did not extend to food (and the article does tell us that, his mother having married an Italian and been “swept into his Italian clan,” food in the Bruni household had a definite Italian accent). Given that Italians tend to go rather lighter on the spuds than we do, it may explain why Mr. Bruni felt somewhat besieged by potatoes during his visit to these shores. Continue reading
I was much braver as a child.
At least I thought nothing of picking – and, more to the point, eating – field mushrooms when, at around this time of year, they would poke their heads above the soily parapet in the field across the way. My adult self, I’m afraid, wouldn’t dream of plucking so freely now – at least not without spending more time in the company of someone who knew what they were about, mushroom-wise, where a very fine line can exist between deliciousness and death.
Mary Bulfin, longtime forager and wild foods expert
Mary Bulfin, luckily, can navigate her way around the mushroom kingdom with more confidence than most, and when an invitation came my way to spend a weekend at Farnham Estate in Co. Cavan, which would include a foraging walk, as guided by Mary, through the estate’s extensive woodlands, I packed my wellies and headed north.
I am well and truly awash with cookbooks these days. Yet another brace of books has come my way, joining what is an already noisy chorus of volumes on my shelves (some of whom, it must be said, have more to shout about than others). These newcomers, though, do, I think, present reason enough, each in their own right, to make their voices heard in the cookbook crowd.
Goodall's Modern Irish Cookbook:
the bloggers-eye view on what Ireland is up to in the kitchen
In the case of the first book, I will first freely admit to a certain degree of bias. Goodall’s Modern Irish Cookbook, launched last Thursday in the Merrion Hotel, is a collection of recipes from Irish bloggers. And yes, as noted in this Saturday’s Irish Times, yours truly is a contributor (just look for the sentence containing the word potato – always a good chance that you’ll find me nearby).
Making the news: Goodall's Modern Irish Cookbook (and my good self) in the Irish Times