Coddle - Ah Jaysus! C'mere and give us a coddle, love! Namechecked by Jonathan Swift and Sean O'Casey as their favourite dish, coddle couldn't be more synonymous with the nation's capital; the fact that Dubliners have rejected it in favour of kebabs and takeaway pizza is a searing indictment of their moral and spiritual decay. That said, coddle ain't for sissies, consisting as it does of a pungent melée of bacon produce swimming in a swamp of spuds 'n' onions; its origins date back to Famine times, when anything to hand, save your nearest and dearest, got thrown into the pot. It's the fuel of the proletariat, the lifeblood of the common man – and a heart attack in a bowl. Less a meal than a veritable Proustian dining reverie, there's eating AND drinking to be had in a bowl of coddle, especially if – as recommended – you flavour it with an auld drop or two of Guinness.
Little known fact: master chef and occasional scribbler James Joyce used to whip up a mean plate of stir-fried coddle in his short lived Irish/Asian fusion restaurant, Finnegan's Wok. And Luke Kelly used to bathe in coddle daily. No, not really.
Spiceburgers - As a naïve young vegetarian, the author once had an extended and sincere conversation with a local chip shop owner, whereupon he was assured, beyond a doubt, that there was no meat whatsoever in spiceburgers; thusly, he spent his formative years unwittingly betraying everything that his idol Morrissey believed in. Ah, well. We bet Morrissey eats them, too. If Meat Is Murder, then a spiceburger is a slow, pleasurable death, an exotic, enigmatic creation revered and reviled in equal quantities by hardcore takeaway connoisseurs. What is a spiceburger? It's a pivotal question that has already provoked spurious debate on the interweb, offering little by way of concrete conclusion. Even the people who make them don't know what's in them. These two simple things we hold as self-evident truths: (a) shop-bought spiceburgers never, ever taste as good as ones from the chipper. As WB Yeats once said, there's nothing quite as tragic as a soggy spiceburger. No, wait, it was our Dad that said that. And (b) you can't get spiceburgers in Donegal. We've tried. NB: Don't attempt a spiceburger without a scoop of chips. Seriously. Really.
Boxty? Seriously? The only people we know who've ever actually eaten boxty were punters at Dublin's ever-popular Irish theme restaurant Gallagher's Boxty House, a place where Actual Irish People dine for solely ironic purposes. In essence, boxty is a seriously hardcore starchfest, a potato pancake much loved in and around the border counties – the word boxty is a derivative of 'bacstai', referring to the traditional method of grilling the absolute shite out of anything that couldn't be boiled over an open fire. No matter how much we might try to suggest otherwise, what with our finely-honed Celtic Tiger palettes and everything, the Irish have always been about the spuds, and considering that the country's going to/gone to hell, and we're all broke-assed losers again, it's time to re-embrace the auld práta. Or fata, if you're from Connemara. A traditional rhyme goes thusly: Boxty on the griddle/Boxty in the pan/If you can't make boxty/ You'll never get a man. Truer words never spoken; several female friends of our acquaintance are destined to die alone and unloved, due to their stubborn refusal to master the fine art of boxty making. There's a band called Boxty, too. They're from France. Don't ask.
Colcannon - Spuds. Cabbage (or kale, if you can score some). Butter. Salt. Pepper. A dash of milk. And a bit of bacon if you're feeling fruity. Mash it all up and voila – there's a colcannon goin' on! Colcannon is possibly the most idiot-proof recipe imaginable; at the same time, get it wrong and you're stuck with a large pot of Republican wallpaper paste. One of our many cherished childhood memories (disregarding the Morrissey spiceburger one, which can officially be filed under 'The End Of Innocence') is of the colcannon our mammy used to whip up every Halloween – what is it with we Irish and the crazy Halloween-related foodstuffs? Round our way, Mammy used to go to pains to ensure that every sibling in our family received exactly the same amount of money in each serving of colcannon, to avoid accusations of favouritism; even today, it's nigh-upon-impossible to convey the delight experienced at finding a one pound note, lovingly wrapped in tin foil, buried in the middle of your dinner. And yes, you guessed it - there's a band called Colcannon. No, wait, there are TWO bands called Colcannon, one of them Australian. We're forming a free jazz group called Spiceburger.
Barn Brack - Now there's a discussion that's had the country on a knife-edge for decades – barn brack or barmbrack? The latter is the traditional name, the former an easy shorthand for anyone who isn't that bothered. The consumption of barmbrack, a yeasted breadstuff loaded with sultanas and raisins, is an essential element of the ancient Irish Halloween tradition, along with dressing up as a sexy nurse and giving children packets of Mikado biscuits because you haven't been arsed to get any monkey nuts in. According to our extensive research (that's right, we don't spend all our internet time checking our Facebook account and watching Morrissey videos) the Halloween Brack originally contained a variety of objects baked into the bread – a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a silver sixpence and a ring. Each object conveyed a particular meaning, transforming the dish into a veritable culinary Magic 8-Ball; the stick, for example, 'to beat one's wife with', meant that the person would have an unhappy marriage or constantly be involved in disputes. See, you think we're making this up. But we're not. There's a band called Barnbrack, too. They're named after the dish, as opposed to vice versa. You must remember them. 'Mickey Marley's Roundabout'? 'The Fly Song'? No? They're only massive in the midlands.
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