The Daily Spud

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Tag: West Cork (page 1 of 2)

Spud Sunday: Lithuanian Spuds

Today’s post is brought to you, Sesame-Street-style, by the letters L and B.

L, first and foremost, is for the dreaded lurgy, to which I have been subject for the past few days and which has kicked to touch all inclination to cook or do anything much. Pah!

On the other hand, L is for lovely, which is how I would describe a recent request for interview from new blogger on the block, Piggy Fair. While I’ll admit that something in the name tempted me to respond, all Miss-Piggy-like – “Qui, moi?” – you can read what I actually said over here.

Lithuanian potatoes

L also stands for Lithuanian, and I was as surprised as anyone to spy Lithuanian potatoes for sale just minutes from my door. I, of course, did what any dedicated potatophile would do, and brought some home, figuring that if the local Lithuanian community were that particular about having access to their own potatoes, then the matter would bear further investigation.

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Spud Sunday: Sassy And Serious

It’s a very flirtatious carbohydrate.

Well now, with a statement like that, you may forget all notions of humble spud-hood. The description, by food historian Regina Sexton, of the potato as a flirty little number, luxuriating in the company of fats, absorbing and carrying their flavour, must surely resonate with anyone who has ever enjoyed crisp-then-creamy deep-fried chips, the golden crunch of goose-fatted roasties, the molten glory of buttery baked potatoes, the creamy ooze of a gratin Dauphinoise or even the odd bag of Tayto.

Regina – author, among other things, of A Little History of Irish Food – was just one of the speakers at an evening dedicated to all things potato at Liss Ard Estate during the recent Taste of West Cork food festival, and she made the comment as she described some of the earliest potato recipes found in Ireland. Though potatoes as prepared by the poor had few, if any, fats to flirt with, their culinary treatment was markedly different if you were wealthy, and some of the earliest known Irish potato recipes were for sugary, buttery potato pies and puddings prepared for the gentry in their big houses. The earliest Irish potato recipe that Regina has found is for just such a pie by Dorothy Parsons, from a 1666 recipe manuscript from Birr Castle. The pie, filled, among other things, with potatoes, rosewater, currents, raisins, orange peel, cinnamon, white wine, egg yolks and sugar, treats potatoes as more fruit than vegetable. It displays, Regina says, a classic medieval palate, with a mixture of sweet, savoury and spice all rolled in one and, as you can imagine, I’d be curious to try it. At least once, anyway.

In addition to Regina’s lyrical descriptions of how we prepared and ate potatoes in times past, the Liss Ard event featured presentations which ran the gamut from pre- and post-famine history with Éanna Ní Lamhna, to advances in modern potato science with Eoin Lettice and the observations of seed saver Madeline McKeever on organic growing and blight-resistant varieties. There were, in addition, tables heaving with locally made potato dishes (though sadly nothing quite like Dorothy Parson’s pie).

Potato dishes at Liss Ard

Now that's what you'd call a feed of spuds

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Spud Sunday: Vive La Bread Revolution

It seems an unlikely place to start a revolution: a tiny island off the coast of far west Cork, inhabited by less than 30 people and without even pub to call its own. And yet Heir Island is now home to the Firehouse Bakery and Bread School, headquarters of Patrick Ryan’s self-styled Bread Revolution, one which you can read all about in his book of the same name, or, better still, which you can discover for yourself by making the trip to West Cork and taking one of Patrick’s bread-making courses. Lucky me, then, to be invited to do exactly that last weekend, and what a joy it was.

View from Heir Island

View from Heir Island: the calm before cooking up a storm

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