So, if you could capture Ireland in a single mouthful, what would that mouthful be?
Sometimes it takes a foreigner to capture the truth about a nation:
Ireland … isn’t exactly the sexiest country in the world … constant gray skies, cool temperatures and an obsession with one of nature’s homeliest vegetables….
Ouch. Harsh but true.
By tradition, we, like our food, are more hearty and plain than delicate and fancy. We are bacon and cabbage and boiled potatoes. We are soda bread, apple tart and the ubiquitous cup of tea. We are the food that you go to your Mammy’s house for. But when we eat out, we generally look to foreign cuisines for something a little outside of our Irish selves.
Perhaps, to my shame, that’s the reason why, in all my years of living in Dublin, I had managed, until now, to avoid darkening the door of Gallagher’s Boxty House. With its traditional Irish menu and diddly-eye music, it sat firmly in my “just for tourists” category.
As overheard at the food market at this weekend’s Bloom In The Park festival:
“I wouldn’t fancy that, now, jaysus!”
The speaker was maintaining a suitably safe distance from the Caribbean-style saucery on offer from Bad Boy Sauces, apparently not at all enticed by the lure of “Carribbean Cooking for Culchies“. Clear evidence that you can give an Irishman curry, but you can’t make him eat it.
Fortunately there was plenty of traditional fare at Bloom to satisfy the spice-averse – soda breads, jams, sausages, smoked fish, cheeses, apple tarts and boxty – while those with more international tastes could treat themselves to everything from locally produced madras curry sauce from Govenders and smoked almonds from The Good Snack Company to the eternally moreish sprouted chickpea hummus from Natasha’s Living Foods.