Friday, November 20, 2009

For the love of the Irish

If there’s one thing you must know, it’s that I love Ireland. And while normally I think love is the strongest possible word, in this case, it’s just not strong enough. I’m obsessed, one could say fanatical, with Ireland and have been for quite some time. My family, hoping it was a faze that would pass, as did my other obsessions (Emilio Estevez, the Beach Boys, Boris Becker – well, Boris is still a mild obsession), humored me, letting me read from Yeats and telling them intriguing facts about the Irish Republican Army (IRA). But the faze never passed and my two week sojourn to Ireland a couple of years ago, further solidified and augmented (if possible) my ardor for the island of saints and scholars. This ardor extends to Irish cooking. Talk about the ultimate comfort food!

And I’m not talking corned beef and cabbage here. I’m talking Dublin coddle, a delectable blend of Irish bacon, pork sausage, onions, potatoes and parsley gloriously blended in a light but extremely flavorful broth and served in a deep bowl with a crust of brown bread. Or heavenly potato cakes, crusted and golden as if they were perfectly browned grilled cheese sandwich wedges. Or Brotchán foltchep, a creamy, subtle leek and oatmeal-based soup that will warm you from head to toe.

So when I was at the bookstore browsing the bargain books (always worth a look), and I ran across Irish Food & Cooking: Traditional Irish Cuisine with over 150 Delicious Step-By-Step Recipes From the Emerald Isle for a mere $5.99, I snatched it up right away. The cookbook’s authors Biddy White Lennon and Georgina Campbell produced not just an excellent collection of recipes, but they provide insight into the history of Irish cuisine and how it has developed over the centuries. They briefly explore Ireland’s feasts and festivals, plugging the reader into the delicacies served at these celebrations. When discussing the staples in an Irish kitchen, the authors explain,
“The Irish are opinionated about food and they have a tradition of great hospitality. They prefer things cooked simply, be it meat, fish or dairy produce. They favour fresh food, in its natural season, and they like to know how it reached the table – who reared it and who killed it, and who grew it or made it.”
Gorgeous photography all throughout the book, courtesy of Craig Robertson, illustrates the fresh ingredients and finished products making every recipe, including all the fish and shellfish, look extremely appetizing (and that’s coming from a non-seafood eater). The chapters include breakfast, soups, first courses, fish and shellfish, meat, poultry and game, salads and vegetable dishes, desserts, bread, cakes and bakes, preserves and sweet treats and drinks. If you have a Borders near you, I encourage you run out and snap this one up. Or just stop by my house – I know what we’ll be eating this weekend and the rest of the year!

1 comment: