The last few days have been almost tropical with high humidity on Inis Mor. We must consider ourselves lucky that at least we have a sea breeze otherwise it would feel like the depths of the swamps of Louisiana. For my afternoon break, I headed to Frenchman’s Beach with a choice of two books, Donna Tarrt’s ‘The Gold Finch’ and Valerie O’Connor’s ‘Bread on the Table’ which was launched a few weeks ago on the island at Tigh Nan Phaidi (click to view)an establishment of culinary excellence ran by the Conceannain sisters, known for the consistency of their wholesome cooking and heavenly breads and cakes.
It is not for nothing that bread is also known as the ‘Staff of Life’ for in many cultures bread is the most important staple, one even the poor have a way of making from humble ingredients. In Ireland , even with the advent of the large multinational chains, many people still bake at home using recipes passed down from their Grannies.
Ms O’Connors book is a delightful read, even on the beach. For one can salivate as one turns the pages and get the smell of the unusual combinations like the ‘Black Pudding and Apple Scones’ , ‘Seaweed Bread ‘. ‘Wild Garlic Focaccia’. Ms O’Connor follows in the footsteps of Elizabeth David, Myrtle Allen, and Claudia Roden . Preserving culinary history for a new generation while at the same time updating it. You can be assured that the guesthouse you were staying in will be making their own version of brown or soda bread. Certainly there is no need to have ‘Pain Poilane’ air freighted in as I once saw on my way home on Aer Aran. Ms O’Connors book is available for sale on the island or through the O’Brien Press. Remember to support your local independant book seller for there is nothing like the smell of print in a bookshop with knowledgeable staff.
Tigh Nan Phaidi
Valery O’Connor www.valerieskitchen.com
O’Brien Press www.obrien.ie
Independant book seller Charlie Byrne’s www.charliebyrne.com