As we send our commiserations to our celtic cousins in ecosse and hope that there engagement with the democratic process will heal the divide the yes and the no and bring about unity. I have fond memories of Scotland and remember returning from a visit to the Scottish Arran I fell into deep conversation with an Irish expat who was journeying on the Caledonian MacBrayne between Ardrossan and Brodick , I asked him what he missed most about Ireland and without hesitation he said “spuds” and went on to recommend a Glasgow institution called the “Ubiquitous Chip” , a restaurant which at the time surpassed all expectations.
It is extraordinary how this humble tuber with its history and versatility can bring back distant memories. One thinks of an urban sophisticate like JM Synge during his stay on Inis Meain for going all the culinary wonders of Paris for the simplicity of a bowl of spuds with butter as sustenance. As we celebrated culture night on the Island with small events I listened to Vaughn William’s opera based on JM Synge’s raiders to the sea and it reminded me of the actress Fiona Shaw and the Artist Dorothy cross on their visit to Inis Mor in the Depths of winter to do research for a production of Raiders to the Sea at the English National Opera and serving them a bowl of spuds freshly dug, boiled and mashed.
What would Synge think of the diversity of his beloved Inis Meain with the various nationalities that now add to the gene pool of the Islands. The French , Guatemalan, Polish, Japanese, Italian, German, and various Eastern European, bringing in their national cuisine and adapting and enriching the already rich cucina povera on the Islands. One can only imagine him devouring the Caribbean delights of Vilma at Tigh Congaile or the rich freshness and simplicity at Inis Meain Suites.
As we look forward to the Transition Year students at Gairmscoil Éinne on Inis Mor celebrating La Journée européenne des langues on Thursday the 25th of September we can count ourselves lucky that the Irish Language is alive and well on these islands along with the continued cultivation of small fields of potatoes.
I share with you a recipe given to us by a regular French visitor that is delicious as French Winter staple and would make a happy addition to all the Potato dishes we already have from county to county.
What you need.
1 Kg of waxy potatoes
2 tbs of butter
1 onion sliced thinly
200 gm of smoked bacon Lardons
200 ml of whipping cream
1 Reblochon (cheese)
1 clove of garlic
Parboil the potatoes in well salted water, drain and cool. Melt half the butter in a skillet and saute onions and lardons until the onions are soft and brown. Stir in the cream off the flame. Preheat the oven to gasmark 6. Cut the potatoes into medium cubes and fry them in the remaining butter until golden brown. Cut the cheese in half. Rub an oven proof casserole dish with the garlic. Cover the bottom with half the potatoes. Add the Lardons and onion mixture on top. Season well and top with half of the reblochon cheese, then repeat the layering stage, add the reblochon cheese with the rind facing up and bake for 15 minutes until bubbling. Serve with a glass of white wine on one of those cold winter nights in front a roaring fire.