Some Irish food tra­di­tions

The Irish Times Magazine - - INTERVIEW -


Fiercely loved by Water­ford, this is a white bread bun, served in crispy or doughy va­ri­eties. Bar­ron’s bak­ery in Water­ford con­tin­ues to bake them. “It’s the oven that gives the bread its unique­ness,” says Mac Con Io­maire.


Padraig Gal­lagher of Gal­lagher’s Boxty House called this potato pan­cake ‘ the caviar of Long­ford’ and you will find it more along the north­west coun­ties. You’ll find it in Kerry too, but they call it ‘ stampy’.


“Bread and but­ter is the most ba­sic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Irish hos­pi­tal­ity,” says Jonny Dil­lon. “Fresh, cooked daily in Irish homes, we didn’t just get recipes but also gath­ered in­for­ma­tion on the pro­cesses in­volved in cook­ing it, from the rolling pins to the aprons used, and the mem­o­ries those items in­voke.”

Car­rageen moss

This is one of Da­rina Allen’s favourite Irish ingredients and one she says is crim­i­nally un­der­used. “The big chal­lenge is to weigh it prop­erly, as it’s very light.” She uses it to make a car­rageen moss pud­ding.


Hand- writ­ten recipes on scraps of pa­per, cut­tings from news­pa­pers and old cook­books were the most emo­tion­ally res­o­nant items re­ceived by the Blasta pro­ject, says Dil­lon. “Granny’s hand­writ­ten ba­nana bread recipe on a scrap of yel­low­ing pa­per, lifted from a tin box for us, car­ries so much emo­tion and mem­ory.”

Corned beef

Not, as com­monly be­lieved, in­vented by Irish- Amer­i­cans who couldn’t get their hands on ba­con to serve with their cab­bage ( the cab­bage cooked in the ba­con wa­ter, of course). There’s ev­i­dence this was eaten as far back as the 12th cen­tury, says Mac Con Io­maire. “Af­ter the Cat­tle Acts of 1666, live cat­tle could no longer be ex­ported to Bri­tain, but corned beef could. When the Irish em­i­grated to New York, they en­coun­tered a lot of Jewish butch­ers who also had corned beef as part of their cui­sine, and it quickly grew to be the na­tional Irish dish of Amer­ica.”


A Cork dish that Mac Con Io­maire says he’s not in a hurry to try again. It’s a type of blood sausage with a gelati­nous con­sis­tency, and it’s tra­di­tion­ally served with tripe ( stom­ach lin­ing of a cow or sheep).

HB ice- creams

The ice- creams of peo­ple’s child­hoods have changed. Peo­ple pe­ri­od­i­cally call for Wib­bly Wob­bly Won­ders and Fat Frogs to be brought back. For Dil­lon, the power of these brands is the mem­o­ries of child­hood they in­voke. “They’re as Irish as the great bat­tle be­tween King and Tayto crisps.”

Maide briste

An old cook­ing uten­sil, com­posed of two prongs, used to cook her­ring on an open turf fire. “There are all sorts of superstitions as­so­ci­ated with this uten­sil, in­clud­ing the idea that if some­one is go­ing on a long jour­ney, you’d throw it out the door af­ter them for good luck,” says Mac Con Io­maire. “Atty Ní Ghal­lachóir showed us how to make the her­ring in Done­gal, but she now uses a bas­ket she got in Ikea which sits per­fectly over her turf fire.”

McDaid’s Foot­ball Spe­cial

A pop­u­lar soft drink syn­ony­mous with Done­gal, this was in­vented af­ter the suc­cesses of Swilly Rovers foot­ball club in or­der to fill the win­ning cup with a non- al­co­holic drink.

Onion sauce

An old recipe passed through by this jour­nal­ist’s fam­ily, sneered at by lesser minds. It’s lit­tle more than boiled onions in a white sauce, served with fish and pota­toes.

Ron­nach buí

“Film­ing in Con­nemara, we came across a tra­di­tion known as ron­nach buí,” says Mac Con Io­maire. “The salted mack­erel is soaked in wa­ter for a few days to re­con­sti­tute it, with a few changes of wa­ter. Then the pota­toes are cooked in the pot with the skin on, and three- quar­ters of the way through, the mack­erel is added with the lid on, and the flavours get ex­changed. Serve with but­ter on the pota­toes.”


Pos­si­bly the most di­vi­sive Irish dish. For some, an Irish stew should be white and con­tain lamb, whereas oth­ers con­sider it as a brown beef stew. “Some add ox­tail soup or Bisto to the beef stew, and oth­ers make the colour nat­u­rally,” says Mac Con Io­maire. “There is no right way: the tra­di­tional method is what­ever you were fa­mil­iar with at home and the only good one is prob­a­bly your mother’s ver­sion.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.