If there’s one thing I have learned about spuds over the past 6+ years, is that there’s always some new spud thing to learn.
Be it natural curiosity, or because – slowly and imperceptibly over time – I have become attuned to spud wavelengths, or because others, knowing my predilection for all things potato, pass snippets my way, there is, in my head, a steady accumulation of spud stuff. The recent few months – though they may have been largely quiet on the blog front – have been no different.
There was the friend from Mayo who, a while back, asked me to give him a call, if I were not “too busy scratting spuds.” When I rang later, he explained that in the ’70s – and, I’d imagine for many years before that – when farm workers from the West of Ireland would travel to England for seasonal work, locals would say that they were “scratting spuds in Scunthorpe.” Scratting meant digging potatoes by hand – not to be confused with apple scratting, which is the process of grinding apples up before fermentation into cider – but technology and the times we live in mean that “scratting spuds” is a phrase – and an activity – that has fallen into disuse.
WW2 evacuees on a farm in Pembrokeshire, digging potatoes the old-fashioned way, circa 1940
(public domain image from wikimedia commons)
On the other hand, modern times have brought us new ways, not just of harvesting, but of growing potatoes and of bending them to breeders’ wills. An article in the Observer last October told of a Dutch project – winner of an award under the USAID Grand Challenges for Development initiative – which is investigating the possibility of using salt-water to grow potatoes (and other crops).
Inspired by Danish butter cookies, made with Irish butter
I’m not exactly sure when it was that Danish butter cookies became a feature of Christmas in our house, but feature they did for several years, with their round, swirled and pretzel shapes and their always-buttery taste.
Well, well, well, round 4 of Project Food Blog
, eh? I am pleased and indescribably gratified that so many of you saw fit to get me to this point with your votes. If you’d care to do so again, voting for entries in this round will be open between October 11th and 14th and this link
will take you to where it’s at, voting-wise. As to the matter of this round, the challenge is to present an instructional photo tutorial of, well, anything you like. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce you to boiled boxty, that most traditional of Irish potato dumplings.
For a start, I’ll bet you didn’t know that there was even such a thing as a world potato dumpling record.
Or that a new such record was set just this past week in Ireland. Fact.
Pádraic Óg Gallagher and his world record 82.5kg boxty dumpling
I watched as the hefty 82.5kg record-breaking dumpling was unveiled.
“Y’know, this kind of thing could inspire a boiled boxty craze,” I thought to my spud-self.
“And when that craze hits, I want to be right up there.”
Truly my ambitions know no bounds when it comes to spuds.
There was just one teeny problem, though…