…and other tidbits of cultural commentary from an American in Ireland.
On our second night in Dublin we were enjoying a wonderful dinner in the historic Tailors Hall headquarters of An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland. I had the pleasure of sitting between the An Taisce past-president and a board member born in that far-away Irish town of Knoxville, Tennessee. (His wife is Irish and as a software engineer he had the freedom to work from home.) It was a delightful evening filled with laughter from the witty conversation. I was on my best behavior, so I was surprised when all of a sudden my Irish seatmate – a distinguished botanist – turns to me and says, “Why do you hate your knife?”
In typical American fashion, I was using my knife and fork to cut my food then placing the knife on the side of the plate while switching the fork to my right hand to eat. She proceeded to give me a lesson on “eating Irish style” so that the fork stayed in my left hand (and never turned over) while the knife stayed in my right. We laughed some more, and I told her that my daughter Claire ate this way (as did many of her friends). My Tennessee-born seat mate told me that his wife had been working on him to switch for 18 years, to no avail. He did, however, save me further embarrassment (and lessons) by leaning over as I picked up my dessert fork to say, “Europeans eat all desserts with their spoon.” That I could master!
While the food throughout my week was very good (thank you An Taisce), I’m not a fan of the “traditional Irish breakfast,” as was served every day in my hotel. But breakfast did give me the chance to read the Irish Independent newspaper. I love the diversity of the English language, as seen in headlines such as “Dozens left injured by bus and transit smash.” Smash. What a great, descriptive, way to talk about a crash.
The best traditional meal actually came on my last evening with a visit to Gallaghers Boxty House. The boxty – an Irish potato pancake – was filled with lamb and covered with a very tasty sauce. It was a great way to end a wonderful visit.
More to come…