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Dublin Tag

Ma Jong SquidMany years ago, we used to frequent a Chinese restaurant on Pembroke Road in Dublin. To my shame, often, we would hang in pretty late, having “just one more bottle of wine” before making any decisions about falling into a taxi.  As night would inevitably turn into early morning, the staff would put us under pressure to finish up and leave. Repeated visits to the table to see if we wanted the bill would be met with orders for “definitely the last” bottle of house red. 

Pulled pork and chili plum sauce (5 of 15)Here in Dublin, after a night on the town, us young lads, boasting of our nocturnal conquests might ask each other “Did ya’ pull?”. No matter what private mortification occurred the evening before, the answer was always in the affirmative. “Course I did. Wasn’t I beating them off?” “I would have landed both but they were fighting over me.” and other such testosterone-fuelled nonsense was, of course, obligatory. However, that was all back in the day.

Got Ya! My fashion headline did the trick and has roped you into the first paragraph. We had family over recently and I decided to barbecue. The forecast was for rain. This meant that it probably wouldn’t. In Ireland, the weather likes to do its own thing. Like the weather, I like to do my own thing too. Back in the day when I was a youth and interested in my appearance, I did some pretty funky fashion stuff, believing myself to be the coolest thing on the catwalk.

They say that as one gets older, one tends to reminisce about better times in the years gone by. The summers were always sunnier, the fashions more fashionable and the food tastier.

Perhaps when I am at the stage where my last few friends will visit me to wheel my bath chair into the morning sun, I may begin to think this way. But, today, I still have my faculties (if not my follicles) so I know how much better things are now than back then.

I am a Dubliner, born and bred inside the Pale. I am proud of my roots, my history and most things Dublin. Some of our country cousins can begrudge us the privileges we enjoy from living in the ‘Big Smoke’. We have, amongst other attractions, the Luas electric tram system, an airport with two terminals, the Guinness Brewery and the boat to England.

It is traditional and reasonable for us Jackeens, as the Culchies like to call us, to suffer some inter-county hostility. Some of the rural dwellers believe that Cork is the real capital of the country. Others think that Galway is the cultural axis on which the world revolves. I refute these and many other illegitimate claims against our capital city. I am well brought up and I will not mention Dublin being the All Ireland Football Champions at present. That would be churlish.

Here in Dublin, the temptation to find a snug and enjoy a few pints is never far away. We have a long and rich pub tradition. A night spent on the drink in Dublin attracts numerous colloquialisms: “A few scoops.”, the great understatement “A couple of pints.” and my favourite “On the batter”. I have no idea where the expression comes from. Perhaps it refers to where the evening would often conclude? In the chipper, where most things bar the chips are deep-fried in batter.

My love of Oriental cooking came from a period in my working life when I ate in Chinese restaurants at least once a week. I have spent over 30 years in advertising and during the late 80s and early 90s, I would dine out, often in excellent Chinese restaurants including  the Orchid Szechuan on Dublin’s Pembroke Road or in the Imperial on Wicklow Street (great for Dim Sum). In those days, it was perfectly normal enjoy a three course meal with wine (often lots of wine) for lunch on an almost daily basis. Those habits have been diminished by time, social convention and economic change but my love of oriental fare and cooking have not been eroded.

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