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 think, perhaps, that the nice people at Gill & MacMillan must have known that my (blog) birthday – which came and went on Friday – was approaching. In the past month, they have sent me not one – and, no, not two – but three newly published cookbooks. Honestly, if they keep this up, they’ll need to send new bookshelves along the next time, and maybe a bigger kitchen too (I am nothing if not an optimist in that regard).
The truth, of course, is that the enjoyment of a new cookbook doesn’t warrant an upgrade to kitchen accommodations as much as it does the availability of a good armchair from which to peruse and plan, followed by a willingness to try something even just a little bit different from your usual fare.
My newly acquired books, written by three lovely Irish ladies, have provided plenty to browse through, and make me wish that I could spend more time cooking than has seemed to happen of late. And if the kindling of the desire to head kitchen-ward is the first, and most essential test of good cookbook, then – before an apron has been donned or an onion chopped – these books have passed with flying colours.
A stylish Catherine Fulvio looking all Audrey-Hepburn-like
on the cover of Eat like an Italian
I open Eat Like an Italian at a random page. I find a recipe for broad bean and Pecorino salad on one side and sorrel flan on the other. That’s it, I’m sold. No two ways about it.
A torch under his pillow and a copy of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit beside his bed. As I glanced around my 11 year old nephew John’s room, it was nice to see that, even in the X-box era, some things about childhood hadn’t changed
What hadn’t changed either was the fact that I had spent this past week glued to Olympic boxing coverage, just as I would have done when I was around John’s age. Not that I am a fan of boxing, but it is by far and away Ireland’s best Olympic sport and, no matter what the sport (or what my age), come the Olympics, I, like so many others, get drawn inexorably into the anguish and excitement of performance on the ultimate sporting stage, most especially when any of our own are competing. And you would have to have been living under a rock in Ireland this past week to miss the feverish excitement over golden girl Katie Taylor, not to mention our three other boxing medallists and the whole Irish boxing team.