Tag Archives: ireland

World Cooking – Ireland

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Ireland
Progress: 91/193

As I will not be covering the UK until I finish my culinary journey around the world, today’s Irish food will be the closest I get to home. Geographically anyway, I don’t think I ever really grew up with a lot of British food being cooked – usually a blend of other cuisines – although I am a bit partial to a good toad in the hole.

Sometimes when I do these food countries, I know exactly what I am going to end up making. This is not, in any way, me talking smack about Irish food – rather that there are some more obvious suspects that I just could not wait to make. I think it also speaks to the interesting ubiquitous nature of Irish cuisine in most of the pop culture I consume – and the extent to which Irish food has made its way to America.

If I was going to be ultra cheeky, I would have just gone with a full Irish breakfast because there are few things I like more than a good fried sausage. I also could have gone and made some potato bread, especially as I don’t think I have ever had potato bread outside of some potato farls. Sounds like it would be pretty delicious.

Bread: Soda Bread

I think that, outside of some flatbreads, this is the first proper loaf of bread that I have made for this particular challenge. I’m not usually someone that bakes in general, so I am taking my chances to learn more where I can. The idea of doing a soda bread was pretty obvious to me as it is one of the first things that comes to mind when someone mentions Irish food – also it’s something I don’t tend to get so it would be nice see how hard it is to make.

Turns out, thanks to this recipe on AllRecipes, this isn’t just very easy to make but also incredibly tasty. Due to this being a non-yeasted dough, this soda bread was something that I really didn’t have to spend a lot of one-on-one time with and still got a delicious result – even if it did need 10 minutes more in the oven than expected. Probably because of how big it is.

This is one of those recipes that I feel has inspired me somewhat and that is not just because I have no desire to drink the rest of the buttermilk that I have in my fridge. I’m thinking about adding some rosemary to make a nice herbal soda bread when I next have a day off.

Main: Irish Stew

I mean, there is nothing more stereotypical than making Irish stew when doing Ireland for an around the world cooking challenge. For me, however, this was a bit of a return to something that I haven’t made for 10 years – since the last time I made Irish stew I caught my little finger pretty bad and just gouged out a chunk of it with a potato peeler. Thankfully no such misadventures happened this morning.

It has been a while since I last used the slow cooker for this challenge (Greece more than a year ago) and this Irish stew – courtesy of Olive magazine – might be the best thing that I have made in my slow cooker for a long time. Granted there was me frying up lamb in the early morning so it wasn’t too late a lunch, but it was worth it for this gorgeous melt in the mouth stew that was perfectly paired with the soda bread. What a great week!

The food of Africa is rarely far from my thoughts when it comes to this challenge, even if it has been a long time since I last made something from there. I am edging closer and closer to the halfway point – which makes me think that it will only be another 2-3 years before I end up finishing my little voyage.

Around The World In 100 Films – Ireland

100WorldFilms - IrelandList Item: Watch films from 100 different nations
Progress: 26/100

Continuing on with my current animation obsession I have turned my attention to a country far closer to home than South Korea.  As films go it is not ‘exclusively’ of that country with Belgium and France both listed as co-countries of origin. However, in an interconnected world such as this one there are not many films that are just one country whether it be in terms of talent, production or finances…

Country: Ireland
Title: The Secret of Kells
Director: Tomm Moore
Year: 2009

I have yet to have the pleasure to see the Book of Kells first hand since I have yet to venture across the Irish Sea (yet have been most of the way around the world… maybe Dorothy was right in The Wizard of Oz about not seeing what was in your own backyard). However, if the recurring visual motifs in The Secret of Kells are anything to go by this is osmething that needs to be rectified.

The film itself is a fictional portrayal of the events leading up to the creation of The Book of Kells which is, if you don’t already know, a heavily illustrated ‘illuminated’ book containing the Four Gospels. Since the origin of this book is not for absolute certain (although it is agreed by a majority that it was started on the island of Iona and then continued in Kells after a raid by some pesky, bloodthirsty Vikings) the film is more than able to take some creative liberties.

Our lead character is a boy of undetermined age named Brandon who lives in the Abbey of Kells with his uncle. Whilst many would be quick to paint the uncle as too authoritarian from the word go since he has turned his back on the world of books and is obsessed with the building of protective walls to fend from the Vikings… I for one greatly sympathised with him. I mean let’s face it when you are faced with an enemy that delighted in rape, pillage the delicate art of leaving no survivors you have every right to obsess over how to not have any of those three things happen to you and those under your charge. Somehow I got sidetracked defending an authority figure… must be getting old.

Anyway, the entire story is set in the backdrop of an Ireland that has recently seen the arrival of Christianity so ‘pagan’ traditions such as forest spirits and the Crom Cruach (a deity who was satiated by the medium of human sacrifice), which aids in the creation of a fantastical and somewhat threatening world. It speaks to the whole argument that just because you say something does not exist it does not make it so, and for Brendan and his forest spirit ally Aisling the danger posed by these ancient non-Christian beings is very real indeed. Thus the film exists in many conflicts. Christianity versus paganism. Immediate versus the immortal. Visions versus reality.

It is rare to find an animated film outside of East Asia and nations that existed behind the Iron Curtain that deals with such complex conflicting ideas. The fact that this is an independent hand-drawn animation makes it all the more impressive. It is also an incredibly beautiful film to look at which is in part to the distinctive look that has been adopted. It is refreshing to see an animated film that takes such care to emulate a more unknown art form (in this case traditional Irish art) and this helps to make the visuals incredibly engaging. Despite the influences being vastly different some of the characters did call to mind those in the graphic novel and film Persepolis.

I will probably be making this three animated films in a row considering my current run. I have a film in mind but whether it is the one I will end up doing is anybody’s guess.