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Meat

Pork and plums (6 of 7)I have been in a bit of a tizzy of late. I have found myself wandering the aisles of the supermarket, looking at the meat. Wandering with desire but little intent. The Wife has warned me off any random acts of meat buying. So, no matter how attractive the deal or how delicious the cut, I have been abstemious. My lunchtime walks around the Sandyford Business District have been a torture. “Look, but don’t buy.” has been the watchword. Home in the evening for ‘a nice bit of fish’ or ‘some healthy chicken’. I have had an unpleasant form of meat anxiety. I have been fretful and perspiring, in need of a good meat fix. That was until tonight.

Pork and bean stew (14 of 15)The expression ‘pork and beaner’ brings to mind a very grim time in modern history. Depression era USA had huge unemployment with transient populations doing what they could to keep body and soul together. Any of you young enough to wonder “What is the old git on about now?” should read some John Steinbeck to get an insight into that depressing world. Back then, a ‘Pork and Beaner” was a boxer, usually old, unskilled and destined for a painful bruising, who would fight for a plate of food. Often the staple, pork and beans.

Pork Chili

We Irish are all small little people. We wear greasy flat caps and are inclined to doff our forelocks to our betters. We are introverted and talk in such a thick accent that no civilised person can understand what we are saying. This leads to further introversion, perpetuating our inward looking approach to life.

The Texans, on the other hand, are all big people. They add to their grand stature by wearing snake-skin boots with Cuban heels and top off their suntanned heads with large multi-gallon hats. They speak in loud, booming voices and stride about in a powerful, overbearing fashion. We could not be any more different to each other. 

Fillet steak with porcini crust (15 of 16)In a café beside our office in Sandyford, they serve the scones on little wooden boards. I think they are called shingles in the building trade. Weatherproof, very trendy and they only need a wipe with a cloth between servings. When we have our coffee there, we have fun watching patrons scrabbling around on the floor to retrieve the mini jam jars that slide off the shingles like rain off a roof. The madness of using building materials in food presentation doesn’t stop there. No, we have grown used to the ‘trend’ for serving chips in buckets. With every shovel of the cement of fashion into the mixer of dining, we seem to move further and further into the building site.

Pork pie (2 of 3)The ‘what will he cook this weekend’ debate started out innocuously enough with: “What makes for a ‘real pork pie?”. “It needs to be a hot water crust.” was my contribution. Friend A suggested “If there isn’t a boiled egg, it isn’t a real pork pie.” Friend B recoiled in horror at the suggestion. For my own part, memories of my Mum making individual pork pies (with an egg) for my Dad’s fishing forays into the western half of the country pretty well decided the issue. I found myself committed to cooking a pork pie. 

Rabbit and prune stew (1 of 1)The headline looks a bit long-winded to me. This is the last in my mini series so you will just have to put up with me being long-winded. We were in the Libourne market and I was suffering from a dose of ‘let’s get creative’. This is not a good condition for me. I was bereft of ideas and decided I needed to do something out of left field. That part of the park can often deliver good results. Hopefully I could translate that into French. With that in mind, I set out to ‘create’…

Barbecued Faux Fillet (9 of 9)The cock crows. It’s about 4.30 in the morning (or so it seems to me) and it is time to get out of bed and get busy. The Wife, lying beside me, grumbles and turns her face to the wall. In the half-light, I stumble to the kitchen and make a ‘tray of tea’ to tempt her into wakefulness. Why do we need to be up so early? We are on holidays for goodness sake! Move the clock forward by an hour or so. We are in the car, driving towards a market. They start early. Long before any civilised nation would be thinking of a mid morning coffee, they then close for lunch. The lunch closure lasts for a number of hours. So if one wants to get anywhere in time to see it open and populated by French people, one needs to be up with the lark. Some holiday!

Would he be an overbearing, arrogant Frenchman?

Would he be an overbearing, arrogant Frenchman?

I had some trepidation growing in me as our pre-arranged meeting with Stéphane Gabart, the author of the delightful My French Heaven blog loomed. The arrangement was made some months before our trip to France in July. As the time got closer, I found my psychosis growing and was asking myself “What if he is a pompous French git?”, “What if he lords it over us with his superior French attitude?” “What if he doesn’t speak English?”, “What will we talk about?” I allowed the pressure to build and build inside my head right up until Stéphane greeted the Wife and myself at his beautiful home. “This is a mistake.” were the words that nearly escaped my lips as we got out of the car to meet the man.

Barbecue Rack of Lamb (9 of 9)It seems that my “Ireland’s Greatest Ingredients” series is gaining some traction. I was happily cooking, writing and posting about the fantastic foods we are so blessed to enjoy in Ireland. Happy, that is, until I got the call from the Section for Magnificent Dining Experiences. Yes, such a Section really exists.  It is housed in a secure area in a sub basement below the Department of Agriculture. Secret access is through warren-like passages hidden behind a false freezer door in the kitchens of a well-known Molesworth Street hotel. The secrecy is vital, I am told, to protect the Section from the now regular attacks by disgruntled farmers who, depending upon market pricing and rainfall levels, overrun the Agriculture offices with sheep, cattle or pigs.

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