The Daily Spud

...there's both eatin' and drinkin' in it

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Spud Sunday: Prince Edward Island

Well now, this post has been a long time coming. Having been sucked into the black hole that is house renovation, the Daily Spud has become closer to the monthly spud, while prospective posts have languished on the proverbial back burner. Now that I have acquired an actual back burner – along with the kitchen to go with it, and of which more anon – it’s time to fire things up again. First stop PEI – Prince Edward Island – which, through the good offices of the Canadian Tourism Commission, I had the great pleasure of visiting back in May.

Lighthouse, PEI

Lighthouses: a common sight on PEI, and which, for many years, guided visitors and settlers to the island, many of them Irish.

I reckon that the Irish settlers who came to PEI in the 1700s and 1800s – all 10,000 or more of them, according to the Irish Settlers’ Memorial in PEI’s capital, Charlottetown – probably felt at home. Or at least as at home as you can feel when you’re several thousand miles away on the other side of the Atlantic.

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Spud Sunday: Toronto & Chips

There are many things you might find yourself doing on a Saturday morning – being a guest, this past Saturday, of broadcasting legend Dave Fanning on his weekend radio show on RTE’s 2FM was one of the less usual (and, as it turns out, more enjoyable) of those things. I was on the show to talk about these lads:

Chips

Chips, and just why we love ’em so

It was a topic prompted by this recent article in the Irish Independent (where I also managed to get my spake in) and, in turn, by no less than the recently held World Chip Championships in Limerick. Though it’s unlike me to miss such a momentous spud event, I did get to meet chip enthusiast Lema Murphy – declared winner of the Champion-Chips with her triple cooked beauties, served with baked bean and bacon sauce and deep fried egg yolk – and who was also a guest on Dave’s show. You can listen back to our chip chat on the RTE radio player, from about 1h 18m 30 in.

And if you were wondering how I could manage to miss such a thing as the World Chip Championships, it was owing to the fact that I was out of the country conducting some international chip investigations of my own…

Canadian flag

Yo, Canada!

It would be a slight exaggeration to say that I went all the way to Toronto just to have chips.

In fact (get me!) I travelled to Canada, through the good offices of the Canadian Tourism Commission, principally to visit Prince Edward Island, where they do a very good line in all things spud (and of which you’ll hear more over the coming weeks). However, having taken the opportunity to visit Canada’s biggest city – and ever keen to broaden my spud horizons – I did make a point of having chips (or fries, to use the local lingo) when I got there. Not just any old fries, though, but that particularly Canadian creation, poutine.
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Spud Sunday: The Big Boxty

Too much happening and too little time to write about it – that has most definitely been the pattern in Daily Spud land of late. Among other things, your intrepid spud reporter has just spent ten days in Canada, with a great number of stories – potato and otherwise – to be related from there in due course. But first, I bring you some record breaking boxty news…

Gloriously big and gloriously bonkers.

That’s what I thought when news reached my ears last Thursday that plans were afoot in Carrick on Shannon to break the record for the world’s biggest (or rather, heaviest) potato pancake. I’ll admit that I didn’t know such a record officially existed (but, according to the Guinness Book of Records it does, covering all regional variations of potato pancake, of which there are many) and, up to last Friday at least, it had stood at a rather hefty 200kg – which is a lot of pancake in anyone’s book.

The organisers of the Carrick Carnival – and chief among them Chef Sham Hanifa of the charming Cottage Restaurant in Jamestown, Co. Leitrim – decided that they wanted to go several kilos better than that by (as you do) making a supersized batch of boxty, Leitrim’s local take on the potato pancake. Sham, in turn, enlisted the help of Mr. Leitrim Boxty himself, Pádraic Óg Gallagher of Gallagher’s Boxty House, to assist in the construction of a true boxty behemoth.

And so it was that last Friday, I took myself off to the northwest and to a covered area beside the quay in Carrick on Shannon, where potatoes were being peeled, grated, mashed and mixed on a grand scale. This is how the record attempt went down.

The boxty boys

The boxty boys: Paddy Fitzgerald, Pádraic Óg Gallagher & Sham Hamifa

Boxty ingredients

Large quantities of everything required:
140kg potatoes – half grated raw & half cooked & mashed – mixed with 100kg flour, 80l milk, 80l water and 1kg salt. Large quantities of volunteers also required for spud peeling duty.


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