November 18, 2009

Return From Ireland

The trip to Ireland was amazing. Mrs. Child was in fact correct when saying that travel is not cheap. We were greeted the first day, unexpectedly, with a bill of $32 for prepared eggs from the hotel restaurant. Needless to say, after that we shopped much more frugally.

Most of Ireland seemed to be stopped in time. Sheep and cow grazed in communal fields among Medieval stone ruins. Stores were open until six-ish and the food was fatty, hardy and heavy with the love of an imaginary Irish granny.  Below I've included two traditional Irish recipes for everyone to enjoy.

 Boxty (bacstaĆ­) is a traditional potato bread from Northern Ireland. It was so revered in the Irish countryside that it was said that if a woman could not bake it, she would never get married, as was popularized by a poem, (“Boxty on the griddle, boxty in the pan, If you can't make boxty, you'll never get a man.”)

 A recipe for Boxty from a narrative in The Irish Penny Journal (1841)

Irish Boxty

       “As Boxty, however, is a description of bread not generally known to our readers, we shall give them a sketch of the manner in which this Irish luxury is made. A basket of the best potatoes is got, which are washed and peeled raw; then is procured a tin grater, on which they are grated; the water is then shired off them, and the macerated mass is put into a clean sheet, or table-cloth, or bolster-cover. This is caught at each end by two strong men, who twist it in opposite directions until the contortions drive up the substance into the middle of the sheet, &c.; this of course expels the water also; but lest the twisting should be insufficient for that purpose, it is placed, like a cheese-cake, under a heavy weight, until it is properly dried. They then knead it into cakes, and bake it on a pan or griddle; and when eaten with butter, we can assure our readers that it is quite delicious,” (314.)
A Modern Boxty Recipe

Another Version     

Potato and Leek soup, while not having the sentiments as Irish Boxty, was a similarly widespread traditional food was enjoyed historically in the country and is still served in restaurants today.

 A recipe for Potato and Leek soup from Good Housekeeping (1889.) (This is said here to be a German recipe, Irish recipes are virtually identical to this one except with the omission of the fried croutons.)
Potato and Leek Soup

"If leeks are not obtainable onions may be substituted. Cut in slices the white part of six leeks or onions. Fry the leeks in four tablespoonfuls of butter, and add two tablespoonfuls of flour and dilute gradually with two quarts of stock and one of water. Cut in pieces eight potatoes and cook them till soft. Strain the soup through a sieve. If you have used no stock add a pint and a half of milk, and when the whole comes to a boil in either case, whether made with stock or water alone, add two eggs well beaten into half a cupful of milk and a little butter. Pour into the soup tureen. Do not allow the soup to boil after the eggs are added. Throw in a handful of minced chives or of minced parsley just before serving. Serve fried croutons with this soup. This is a German recipe, and valued for its excellence,” (76.)

I'm sure many other Irish Recipes will follow these, when I am missing Ireland. 

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