“Will I bring you Mum’s copy of Full and Plenty?” big sis #1 had asked.
There was only one possible answer to that question, and that was a resounding yes please.
Maura Laverty’s book, a classic of Irish cooking, was one I remembered clearly from childhood, both at home in my mother’s kitchen and, later, in my sister’s house, the book having been passed on to her when she got married.
My Ma's well-worn copy of Maura Laverty's Full and Plenty
As a child, I has read and re-read the book. Maura Laverty prefaced each chapter with wonderfully written stories from her home place of Ballyderrig that revolved around food, cooking and its place in the lives of her family and community. Whether it was the story of Statia Dunne’s “monarch among stews” that had won her a husband (and – take note ladies – “at an age when she had almost given up hope”) or the love of cowslips that allowed the author to become acquainted with Mrs. McKey’s fruit roll, I drank it all in. I also exercised my early baking muscles on the book’s substantial store of recipes.
In some ways, it was as if a country field day had come to the city.
At least that’s what I thought when I saw the kiddies crazy golf with the Mayo landmarks. A holy water bottle represented the Marian Shrine at Knock and a toy aeroplane the international airport nearby, and knocked they both were with great regularity by the junior would-be golfers.
You: So, what’s for breakfast, then?
Me: Bacon & eggs.
You: Ooh, bacon & eggs, me favourite. Rashers ahoy!
Me: Erm… it’s not quite your usual bacon & eggs.
You: (suspiciously) Uh, how so?
Me: (sheepishly) Well, for a start, there’s no bacon…
You: No bacon? Well feck that for a game of cowboys(*), I’m off for a breakfast roll…
* for the uninitiated, this phrase translates roughly as ‘bugger it’
To be fair, you would be well within your rights to storm off, but perhaps you should have a looksee at what you’re missing first:
When The Shiitake Hit The Pan