Thursday, October 18, 2007

Spud warfare

For an Irish family, we don't really eat that many potatoes. And when we do eat them, they're generally wee charlottes or baby types boiled in their skins. (Pluto - you can stop that thought RIGHT there!) In fact, it is unusual for me to buy potatoes larger than your average marble. The reason for this ... I hate peeling spuds.

I needed potatoes for some soup I was making yesterday, so I bought a big bag of Combers (a variety of potato local to us here in Northern Ireland). I had a few left over, and having peeled what I needed for the soup, I just kept on peeling, boiled the extra up, mashed them, tossed in a sizeable lump of butter and some black pepper and served it up with dinner.

The reaction was a bit unusual, when they arrived at the dinner table the kids just stood and stared at their plates. I explained it was mashed potatoes to which the eldest retorted "I know what it is Mummy, I just didn't know you could make it."

Did I mention I was a cookery teacher in a previous life?

We always say grace before a meal, and as eyes were closed I sensed a movement to my right and peeked out to see the youngest stretch across the table whilst her brother was giving thanks, lifting a forkfull of mash off his plate and dolloping it onto her own.

The whole way through dinner I'm stopping them from pinching mash off my plate, each others plates and I'm thinking 'didn't I teach these kids any table manners?' They're asking their dad can they have share of his but he's as bad as they are shouting back 'get your hands off', they're my potatoes!'. I'm watching all this in utter disbelief - my family, fighting over a plate of spuds.

By special request, for one night only, we are having champ for dinner tonight. For the uninitiated, champ is an Irish dish which consists of mashed potatoes with scallions (or spring onions) mixed through them, generally shaped like a nest, with a lump of butter in the middle. You can see why it's not on the menu in the Ivy.

Honestly, you try to bring them up with a bit of culture in their lives and there it is ... bogtrotters the lot of them!

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