So runs a line from the song “The Great Potato Feud” by Pat Quinn of Inis Oírr, which describes a late night bar scene with much heated, and inebriated, debate on the matter of the best potato.
It is, as Rónadh Cox** pointed out in her article in the journal Gastronomica, “a very funny song… above all funny because the idea of a pack of Irishmen quarreling about potato varieties seems ridiculous – but not impossible.”
** I must declare some interest here – Rónadh is my cousin and writing about potatoes, it seems, a family preoccupation.
I was reminded of the song because I had the pleasure of meeting Darra Goldstein this week, Editor in Chief of the aforementioned Gastronomica, who was in Dublin at the DIT School of Culinary Arts & Food Technology to deliver the keynote address at the inaugural Dublin Gastronomy Symposium. It seems a terribly grand title – and it was in the nature of the event that the papers presented were necessarily academic and, at times, esoteric – but at its heart was a group of people, brought together by a committee chaired by Dr. Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire, and whose interests, though diverse, centered on food – that which nourishes and enables us all to simply be.
And many of you will simply wonder how it happened that I have not presented you with a potato salad before this.
It’s not like I haven’t been eating them – it’s one of the great things to do with new season potatoes. Just boil ’em, chop ’em up, add mayonnaise and/or natural yoghurt, maybe a bit of mustard, some chives or spring onions, parsley or dill, possibly a few capers, salt, pepper and away you go. I guess I didn’t think that you really needed me to tell you how to do that. The salad that I have here is a little different to the usual, though, not least because I had to go on a long journey to find it. All the way to Russia, in fact.