If there’s one thing worse for a food blogger than having a dodgy stomach, then it’s having a dodgy stomach 3 days before Christmas.
Instead of indulging in bucketloads of hot port and mince pies, as would be customary at this time of year, yesterday I was confined to tea and toast. Today, feeling better but still a bit cautious, I made some plain-ish crackers, just with flour, a little butter and milk, and sprinkled, some with salt and some with poppy seeds. Now, my experience with crackers is mixed and today was no different, but these, at least, had the twin virtues of looking festive and being easy on the innards. Meanwhile, I am sincerely hoping that my digestive capacities will be back to full strength in time for the feasting to come!
It’s safe to say that my father knows a lot about potatoes. He has lived long enough to remember an Ireland where most people grew their own and where the potato really was still a hugely dominant part of the rural diet. “Praties and dip”, he tells me, was a style of eating potatoes still prevalent when he was a boy growing up in Kerry. And no, it’s not remotely like anything you might be imagining right now. Banish whatever images of chipped potatoes and sour-creamy dip have come to mind. Instead, picture yourself with some boiled potatoes, a bowl of milk and a bowl of salt. Take the warm spud, dip it in the milk, then dip it in the salt and eat. Et voilà, there you have praties and dip.
This is not how you eat in polite company. The slightly syrupy and uber-tasty liquid from the courgette and onion pickle is running all over my hand, which, in turn, is held very close to my mouth because of the imminent danger of my overloaded cracker disintegrating before it ever gets to the mastication stage. The rapidly fracturing components of my lunch are finally, and unceremoniously, shovelled into my awaiting gob and all that remains is a slobbery mess on the plate and a big smile on my sticky face…