Sometimes it takes a foreigner to capture the truth about a nation:
Ireland … isn’t exactly the sexiest country in the world … constant gray skies, cool temperatures and an obsession with one of nature’s homeliest vegetables….
Ouch. Harsh but true.
By tradition, we, like our food, are more hearty and plain than delicate and fancy. We are bacon and cabbage and boiled potatoes. We are soda bread, apple tart and the ubiquitous cup of tea. We are the food that you go to your Mammy’s house for. But when we eat out, we generally look to foreign cuisines for something a little outside of our Irish selves.
Perhaps, to my shame, that’s the reason why, in all my years of living in Dublin, I had managed, until now, to avoid darkening the door of Gallagher’s Boxty House. With its traditional Irish menu and diddly-eye music, it sat firmly in my “just for tourists” category.
Gallagher's Boxty House, Temple Bar
As overheard at the food market at this weekend’s Bloom In The Park festival:
“I wouldn’t fancy that, now, jaysus!”
The speaker was maintaining a suitably safe distance from the Caribbean-style saucery on offer from Bad Boy Sauces, apparently not at all enticed by the lure of “Carribbean Cooking for Culchies“. Clear evidence that you can give an Irishman curry, but you can’t make him eat it.
Fortunately there was plenty of traditional fare at Bloom to satisfy the spice-averse – soda breads, jams, sausages, smoked fish, cheeses, apple tarts and boxty – while those with more international tastes could treat themselves to everything from locally produced madras curry sauce from Govenders and smoked almonds from The Good Snack Company to the eternally moreish sprouted chickpea hummus from Natasha’s Living Foods.
Artisan Food Market At Bloom:
Soda bread from The Foods of Athenry in Galway; Ardrahan cheese from Cork; Burren Smokehouse salmon from Clare; Boxty from the Boxty Bakers of Leitrim
Places everybody. Parade coming through. A veritable feast of food and drink inspired by that most Irish of holidays, St. Patrick’s Day, is coming your way.
Yes, you’ll find a heap of soda bread amongst the parade participants and, yes, you’ll also see a distinct fondness for the combination of beef and Guinness (in fact, Guinness plus just about anything), but there are a few less-than-traditional surprises in there too – coconut faux-tatoes anybody?
Click on the links below to jump straight to your favourite parade floats or just browse the lot while sipping a cup of tea or perhaps a pint of the black stuff, given the day that’s in it. The running order includes:
– A Drinks float to kick things off.
– A jam-packed Soda Bread float.
– Potatoes, who, naturally, get a float all to themselves.
– A float with Starters and Side Dishes, mainly featuring the use of green vegetables.
– There’s a dedicated Beef and Guinness float.
– Quickly followed by a float which hosts plenty of non-beefy ideas for The Main Course.
– There is, of course, a float chock-a-block with Sweet Stuff for afters.
– And we round things off with a Cheese float.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated. As is a Spud’s wont, I have been humbled by the response. Now, if you’re sitting comfortably, let the parade begin!
(image from sweetlifebake.com)