Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country
by David Bowers
Skyhorse Publishing, 2012
source: library copy
"In the same way Italian food is about more than spaghetti and meatballs, real Irish food is a far more complex and exciting thing than the corned-beef-and-cabbage caricature we tend to think of in North America."
Real Irish Food by David Bowers is not a new title for the Weekend Cooking crowd. After reading other blogger reviews (I should have made a note so I could link back), I requested the title from my library. The first thing I noticed was the stunning photography - not just food, but gorgeous landscapes, towns, and markets, too.
The book begins with a brief introduction to Irish cuisine and its history, then continues with a pantry section. Special attention is paid to stocking an Irish kitchen in America and Bowers, quite helpfully, provides sources for obtaining many of the basics.
Chapters are divided by dish and include Breakfast Foods, Starters and Snacks, Stews and Chowders, Meat and Game, Vegetables and Side Dishes, Cakes and Tea Things, and many more.
Quite honestly, I would never consider trying many of the recipes (4 cups of fresh pig's blood is the first ingredient in Black Pudding), but who can resist Potato Cakes? I just happened to have leftover mashed potatoes on hand, so I made some for breakfast. They disappeared instantly!
I bookmarked several other recipes to try later:
- beef and barley stew
- mustard roasted chicken
- cauliflower cheese (Barbara Pym Reading Week is coming!)
- old-fashioned spicy gingerbread
Bowers also includes plenty of background information with the recipes. I can't tell you how many times I've read about potted meats in novels without understanding precisely what it meant. Alongside the Potted Shrimp recipe, I found a straight-forward explanation.
"Potting" fish or meats was an old way of storing them. Leftover meats such as chicken or ham or seafood such as fish or shrimp were pounded together with nearly an equal quantity of butter...to make a rough paste, then seasoned with salt and mace, nutmeg, or another warm spice. The paste was then poured into a small container and covered with clarified butter, sealing out air so it could be stored in a cool pantry."Bottom line:
While not a cookbook from which I would regularly cook, Real Irish Food by David Bowers was very interesting to read. I learned a lot about traditional Irish cuisine and the gorgeous photography made it a feast for my eyes.
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