Irish Interlude: Part Two

Call me Mr. Potato Head. I was led to believe by TV food blatherers that Irish cooking was undergoing a Renaissance to remove it from the Dark Ages. Maybe at a few posh spots, but they have so far eluded me.

You’d think the famine would have been enough to persuade the Irish to build their cuisine around some other staple, but no. Order vegetable soup, it is 90 percent potato. Order Irish Stew, which is said to be a beef stew by your waitperson, and when it arrives it s revealed to be 80 percent potato, 15 percent carrot with a 5 percent garnish of beef bits.

At a “French” restaurant, order a fish and it at least isn’t dipped in batter and deep fried to be served with chips (french fried potatoes). No, the fish, a very nice local salmon, is pan seared and served with a lemon butter sauce. Ideal. But the vegetable is not the haricot vert of France nor the petit pois but a melange of boiled potato, parsnips and carrot.

Apparently they just can’t help themselves. Root, root, root for the root vegetable. Perhaps they are making up for all those post-famine years when the potato wasn’t cooperating, but it is clearly in robust health now, Or maybe some Irish doctor told them a potato a day keeps him away.

I thought one night I had devised he perfect way to get through a meal sans potato. We ate at a Chinese restaurant. And yet, the ubiquitous potato sought me ought ever there. I was offered with my entree a choice of fried rice, white rice, or wait for it, french fries!

In the immortal words of Irving Berlin, or was it Ira Gershwin, “You say potato, I say no more. Please.”

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