Sunday, April 25, 2010

kippers for breakfast

A lazy sunny Sunday. Kippers and poached egg for breakfast out the back. A couple of minutes on the pan is enough to stink the whole house but the taste... is worth all the Febreeze afterwards...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

something fishy...

New research from University College Dublin has found that 25% of the fish sold in chippers and shops around the county as cod or haddock is not actually cod or haddock at all. The most common 'impostors' seem to be pollack an whiting, according the the study.

While it is quite worrying that one out four times the customer isn't getting the fish he/she is paying for, the survey also comes to show the public actually DOES eat (and seems to like) other (cheaper and more sustainable) types of fish besides cod and haddock... even if we are being tricked into eating it labelled as something else.

Guidelines on fish to avoid (from a sustainable point of view) can be found on: and fish good to eat:

Friday, April 16, 2010

grow-your-own season is here

and Mark has been busy making a green house with mainly reclaimed plastic and nails, as well as some hazel branches. He's done a pretty good job. Hopefully the tomato plants will be happier this year. The rotten summer we had last year left them well, rotten... here are some pics of tomatito, the green house ready for some planting action and a pea just coming out...

Books and Food Titles

Every second Friday, the Wicklow Mobile Library comes to Shillelagh, which could be considered one of the highlights of the week in the village. Certainly of my week, anyway.

Today was library day.

I brought back a couple of books I've finished but I wasn't feeling very inspired in the what to read next department, so Karen (who runs the mobile library) suggested I take The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam, purely because of the title.

Here's the thing: you might think The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam, let's call it VDPBJ from now on, is a cook book or a full on essay on the culinary refinement of the peanut butter and jam combination - but no, my dear friends - VDPBJ is a fiction book. And judging by the cover, is 'set against the backdrop of civil war and the death of a colony' and her author, a young lady named Lauren Liebenberg, is a very talented author.

I probably took it purely because it was just before lunch time and I was starving - Peanut Butter and Jam didn't sound like too bad an idea - at all.

And then I remembered this wasn't the first time I took a fiction book with a food title from the library. A few months ago, I took something titled We need to talk about Custard, errr, sorry, no that was Kevin... well some little book with Custard in its title and a cover that looked like a print of the yellow, red and blue tin of Birds custard powder. The title will come back to me one of these days...

So there you go, a repetitive pattern in my library book selection modus operandi.
The story with the custard book was that I took it home, I kept it and forgot it for a few weeks, read something like 10 pages max and brought it back to the library. It is not fair to judge a book by its covers, I know, but surely by choosing to compare your book to custard, you are asking for trouble.

In one hand, you have the custard freaks, who love custard - for them the book is never be good enough, the bar is just too high. Expectations can't be met.

In in the other hand you have the custard loathers, who wouldn't touch custard, creme anglaise or any remotely similar, with a stick. So they probably won't even bring your book home for starters...

It's a tough gamble, this naming-your-fiction-after-food business. I suppose Laura Esquivel did a jolly good job with Como agua para Chocolate (Like water to chocolate) but if I remember well, there were some recipes included mingling with the story, which made it a sort of hybrid between cookbook, magical realism and chickflick- a whole new and very successful genre I suppose.

Whatever happens, I'm decided to give VDPBJ a fair go - after I finish with what I'm reading at the moment - to see if the story is anything vaguely similar to the jam/peanut butter combo. I'll let you know what happens.

Now that I think about it, I probably should read the custard one, if I ever come across it again.

The whole thing just got me thinking about why people would choose to name fiction titles after food. It is an emotionally charged weapon, I think. A cruel marketing trick to hijack your brain with yummy sounding titles, even if they have nothing to do with what happens in the story - purely trying to get to the readers' heart through their stomach, as they say.

Or maybe - like with food shopping - I just shouldn't go to the library before eating!