Monday, 1 February 2010

The Great Irish Potato Surplus of 1974

I have a terrible habit of being repetitious when it comes to food.  I think it hails back to my childhood when you could tell what day of the week it was, simply from the smell (or should that be aroma) that was coming from the kitchen at lunch time. 

In Ireland (at least in my house back then) the main meal of the day was at lunchtime and confusingly called 'dinner'.  In the evening (dinnertime) you'd have a light meal called 'tea' which was usually sandwiches or salad or the type of food that most people think of as 'lunch'.  We called this 'teatime' as it was accompanied by copious amounts of hot tea.  Is it any wonder people take the piss out of the Irish?

My mother is a great cook and back then she liked to try new recipes but my father is strictly a meat n' two veg man who would turn up his nose at anything 'fancy'.  His idea of sauce is Bisto gravy and nothing else.  For him there are only 2 herbs n' spices = salt n' pepper.   Just the smell of garlic has the potential to drive him to drink, which is not a good thing for a man who took the Pioneer pledge of total abstinence from alcohol at age 16 and never touched a drop since. I have a hefty wager with a sibling he'll cave in any day know.  Thankfully, his offspring have more than made up his shameful lack of support for the Irish Vitners Association. 

So we were somewhat restricted in the choice of menu growing up but it was all fine fare to be sure.  In truth, I had my own dietary fussiness to contend with.  I was the quintessential 'Jack Sprat' in that I would eat no fat. I methodically and surgically dissected and removed every single minute piece of fat from any meat on my plate.  Even though my Dad was/is a fussy food fucker himself, he did his damndest to convert me to the culinary joys of fat.  I still vividly remember being semi force fed a piece of steak with a big wedge of fat and almost retching on the spot.

Since leaving food (even fat) on your plate was taboo, I leveraged sleight of hand and diversionary tactics to deposit the fat cuttings behind the kitchen radiator heater. That all worked fine until the festering mess started to shhhtink and 'my jig was up' so to speak although I danced another jig after my backside had been tanned for my offences. They were still finding moldy rasher rinds years after I left home.

So the weekly menu rarely varied from
  • Sunday - roast lamb or beef or pork & potatoes
  • Monday - mutton stew & potatoes 
  • Tuesday - bacon & cabbage & potatoes (FYI - we don't eat 'corned beef' in Ireland - some Yank invented that lie)
  • Wednesday - something & potatoes & mashed turnips & parsnips (It doesn't matter what the something was I just hated turnips & parsnips)
  • Thursday - mixed grill (bacon, sausage, egg, fried bread & fried potatoes)
  • Friday - fish & mashed potatoes as dictated by GOD! - (Jesus, where's the fuckin' loaves o' bread?)
  • Saturday - roast chicken & potatoes
Note: - 99% of fast food in 1970's Ireland consisted of 'the chipper' - deep fried potato wedges. To this day my favourite side dish is still potatoes.  You can make moonshine aka 'poteen' out  of potatoes. Trivia fact: Tonight for dinner I'm cooking potatoes. What more can I say  - I'm proud to be a Mick Paddy spud lovin' mothafucka!

In retrospect and on a more serious note, it's a good thing there wasn't a short supply of potatoes when I was growing up or we'd have been bloody famished.  

So how was the food when and where you were a wee nipper?

Tags: .potato..

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Stevo February 01, 2010 6:46 am  

That menu sounds pretty damn good to me.

My childhood menu in Canada was remarkable similar, if you add in mac and cheese once a week.

My grandmother was fond of calling lunch Dinner. I knew there was some Irish in the family.

Caro February 01, 2010 8:03 am  

That sounds exactly like my house. Right down to me refusing to eat anything vaguely fatty. My dad's also a meat and spuds Pioneer (misnomer if ever there was one) who has recently eaten 2 pizzas as "training" for his forthcoming trip to Italy.

My brother used to put both butter and brown sauce on his beans which the sight of used to make me retch.

NicoleB February 01, 2010 8:15 am  

I love everything with taters.
As a fact, that menu sounds great for both me and hubby ;)
I would eat it incl. the fat though. Me loves fat ;)
Yuck at the idea of throwing it behind the radiator ;)

Quickroute February 01, 2010 8:59 am  

@ Stevo: I can't really complain about the menu but then again we Irish like to complain about everything

@ Caro: Welcome back - I thought you were on the run! - Butter on beans - now you've opened a can o' worms - vomit pending

@ Nicole: No don't say you'd eat the fat - {feels queazy}

Del S,  February 01, 2010 10:00 am  

Like most things in Ireland during the wonder years the weekly menu was unchanged ( we didn't like change )
Sunday - roast chicken & potatoes with peas / carrots

Monday - a non spicy chicken curry with chips aka chicken and onions in watery curry sauce

Tuesday - bacon & cabbage & potatoes

Wednesday - steak and kidney pie (the one with the tinfoil tray) potatoes and peas/carrots (whichever was not eaten on Sunday)

Thursday - very well done round steak, onions and would you believe, mashed potatoes

Friday - fish fingers & chips (fingers as we weren't fish people but God rules applied)

Saturday - was when frozen food came from the supermarket and had to be eaten fast cos we had no freezer. So french bread pizza and savoury pancakes before going to The Grove

Quickroute February 01, 2010 10:09 am  

@ Del: yer SO right - we didn't like change - Glad to see our menu was similar - although Jaezuz - yiz ate curry - that would never have been allowed in our gaff

Maya February 01, 2010 11:33 pm  

Funny I can't really remember what we used to eat when I was growing up. My parents we always on wierd food kicks, so not a lot of meat and no refined sugar.
I do know that starting at the age of 6 once a week I had to plan a menu, walk to the store and buy the ingredients, and cook the meal. So weekly we had a hotdog stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon--something I learned to make in the Girl Scouts.

Quickroute February 02, 2010 12:27 am  

@ Maya: Age 6 wow - impressive. I could barely open a packet of crisps at that age

nick February 02, 2010 4:09 am  

Our menus when I was a child were pretty similar to yours, except that in summer there would be things like veal and ham pie and salad. My parents were both very traditional about food, nothing too spicy or too foreign or too unusual. Thankfully we've all matured a bit since then cuisine-wise and now we'll try just about anything. But I do know someone who's only had an Indian meal once, she's totally averse to Indian cooking.

Quickroute February 02, 2010 6:56 am  

@ Nick: I love Indian food - my time in London saw me build up a tolerance to the spiceyness - it's hard to find over here though :-(

Maxi Cane February 02, 2010 10:07 am  

Yup potatoes all the way.

I used to have a cookbook that had over 200 ways to cook them.

But I always ended up either frying or mashing them.

Thriftcriminal February 03, 2010 8:49 am  

Totally with you on the fat front, really cannot stand the stuff. It's the texture rather than the taste. I was generally a fairly fussy git as a kid, but that made absolutely no difference to my grandmother who would make me sit there until all the fish pie or beef heart or liver or whatever it was I wasn't keen on was eaten. Sometimes I enlisted the assistance of the dog (no evidence for later trouble that way) but that was of little use on spinach or broccoli.

Quickroute February 04, 2010 6:41 pm  

@ Maxi: 200 ways - nah ! Boiled is the only way

@ Thrifty: I could have done with a dog but my Mum hated pets. you just reminded me about another food I hated - liver - yeuch!

Diarmuid Hayes February 07, 2010 1:42 pm  
This comment has been removed by the author.
niamh February 07, 2010 4:30 pm  

Similar Irish memories, except in my house we had exotic food like spaghetti bolognese which my friends thought was well weird! Definitely showing my age. I'm back in Ireland now after some expat time and that childhood food is now sold as Retro and costs a fortune!

Quickroute February 07, 2010 10:58 pm  

@ Niamh: Well weren't yiz well ahead of yer time - My sister made spag bol once and was banned from the kitchen for stinkin' it up

lilPigRodeo April 24, 2012 7:02 pm  

Haha I Had A Good Laugh At Your Post, i too have many fond memories about storis such as yours when i was a wee tike, eh good times tea time cherrio,

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