Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland ( VIII)

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Friday. Probably the cook wants to empty the fridge and the pantry. The weekend is long and who knows what will happen to the corn and the peas in the meantime? This is a risk the cook doesn’t want to take on. And as long as there are non-pork eaters, there is hope: why not processing all those leftover vegetables into a patty and call it a vegetable burger? Brilliant isn’t it? And here we go: the burger consisted mainly of mashed potatoes, a few peas and corn. If you want to imagine the taste: think of mashed potatoes you made on Sunday and re-heat it at three consecutive days. I think you can’t get much closer. Nearly no salt or pepper was spent on this dish. Its getting rid of things that counts not adding stuff, when emptying the fridge. The salad, if you are optimistic enough to call the few leaves that, were surprisingly fresh but pretty tasteless.The exception: a piece of green pepper, which was one of most bitter things I ever ate. Who would have thought the cook being so subtle that he let the week end with a bitter taste, before the sweet weekend appears?

What? Vegetable Burger with salad and garlic sauce ( I can’t eat garlic sauce especially not in public. I have no clue either why a canteen would serve it anyway.)

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Yes, with a bitter aftertaste.

Surviving as a non-Pork eater in Ireland (VII)

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I don’t know. I really don’t know. When the sweet canteen lady handed this dish over to me I looked at the thing in front of me and for a moment I was lost for words. A brick with wet concrete before a last yellow leaf descended on it would make a good capture for an art exhibition in the Meatpacking district in New York, but for a dish it is rather depressing. But maybe the cook had failed selling his artworks to wealthy patrons and now strikes back? In the dull reality of my life however, it is Thursday afternoon and the thing in front of me on the plate is called a „Vegetable Enchilada.“ Who would have guessed that?  It tasted exactly like it looks: ghastly. Nevertheless for the order of things: the vegetables discovered were: onions ( plenty ), celery ( there is no dish without celery in this country ), shreds of red and green peppers, spinach ( this is at least what I think the half-brown-half dark green leaves I found were and last but not least carrots ( spring is coming ). The brick itself was covered in industrial cheese and unsalted or otherwise seasoned tomato sauce,which made things rather worse than better. But probably there is a day in life when one eats a yellowish coloured brick and definitely isn’t in an exciting exhibition but in a rather sober canteen.

What? Vegetable Enchilada

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Luck always favors the brave.

Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland (VI)

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I don’t know. Thursday definitely isn’t the cook’s most beloved day of the week. I assume he secretly calls it: „throw-all-leftovers-together-and-call-it-the-vegetarian-dish-day.“ Today he went for: Vegetable tartlets with potatoes and vegetables. Uff. The vegetable itself was extremely watery and without any taste at all. Okay. We’re used to this. But the vegetable tartlets were worse. Their filling: carrots, goat cheese and their glorious highlight: pickled beans. Whoever puts pickled beans into a vegetable tartlet? I am not quite sure why pickled beans exist anyway. But I am just not getting it. Pickled beans. The tartlet itself: watery. Maybe the cook is lovesick and cries into the pots and pans? Who knows? The potatoes: let’s keep silent. They look like potatoes but were soft as butter. But after the pickled beans I am absolutely unable to wail about the common Irish tendency to cook the last inch of life out of vegetables. I mean: pickled beans. I always knew that surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland would be a challenge but today was just a little bit too much. Pickled beans.

What? Vegetable tartlets with vegetable and potatoes.

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 5 Euro

Survived? Well, I honestly can’t answer this.

Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland (V)

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I was very late today and the sweet canteen lady ( all of the canteen ladies are very sweet indeed ) had to shake her head. „No vegetarian dish left today“, she said. So I went for the non-porkish meat dish. Beef Keema. I shouldn’t have done, firstly I became homesick immediately, just while reading the name and secondly Mrs Rajasthani proud of the secrets of Indian cuisine would have stormed into the kitchen to give the dish the name it deserves. However, the rice was dry but not overcooked, beside of the beef the dish consisted of: overcooked potatoes, mushy peas and onions ( the Irish standard ). To my great surprise: no celery. What happened to the celery-is-a-must-policy if the cook? The main problem: the dish was spicy, but it did not taste of anything. No explosion of curry powder or the breath-taking smell of chili or the refined spice of garam masala. Just an indefinite spiciness that tasted of absolutely nothing. Very strange thing. Quite hard to do I assume.

What? Beef Keema with rice and pita bread

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 5 Euro

Survived? Yes, but with a very strange feeling of nothingness.

Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland ( IV )

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New year, new luck, even for non-pork eaters. Today’s dish: Vegetable pasta with pesto. I am not quite sure of the pesto part, but it might just have meant: tomato sauce. Vegetables spotted: celery ( I am totally convinced that celery should be included on the Irish flag. It literally is everywhere…) The Irish flag as we know it, was flown for the first time in 1848, joining the hope spreading all over Europe that the kings would go and the people would stay.The green in the flag stands for Irish Republicanism, the orange for the Protestant minority on the island and the white for the hope of peace between the two major cultures in Ireland. ( There still is much more hope needed.) Further however, I spotted Zucchini, onions, tomatoes, red peppers( but I am not a hundred percent sure, it could have been tomato skin as well), and yellow peppers. No mushrooms! This I think is the first dish ever without any mushrooms. The dish at a whole had a somehow soapy taste, but I don’t even want to start to inquire further. While the kitchen has a strong tradition in yellow-beige colored food, today’s dish was presented in an optimistic red. Maybe the cook started into the new year with some good resolutions? Or the „Beige-Representative“ as Frau Arboretum put it so rightly, just went on holidays?

What? Vegetable pasta with pesto.

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Hmm-hmm.

Surviving in Ireland as non-pork eater ( III )

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Yesterday was a day out of a manual for nightmares. I was neither at the University nor in Dublin at all. When I brushed my teeth late at night I remembered that I had not eaten all day. So with delay but not forgotten, another attempt of mine to not eat pork in an all-pork eating environment. Today: Roasted Vegetables with mashed potatoes (instead of rice.) Well, you might say, Read On, you don’t think us you can trick us like that, don’t you? Roasted Vegetables? But I can only shrug my shoulders and repeat: Roasted Vegetables. Sometimes I wonder if in the morning the cook and his underlings gather and the cook asks:

Cook: What’s our main dish today?

Underling 1: Cook, you said either cold ham with mustard or roasted turkey.

Cook: Turkey it is, time to get a bit christmassy, isn’it? Hohooohooo.

Underlings 1 to 10: Oh no please don’t make us wear these silly hats again.  Please cook, show some mercy.

Cook ( sighs ): These stupid underlings! I am talking about the turkey! As in christmas turkey not as in empty heads underneath a hat.

Underlings 1-10: smiling in relief.

Cook: You will all wear reindeer antlers this year. No discussions. How many of you are there?

Underling 4 ( in despair ): Cook, there are eight reindeers but ten of us underlings.

Cook: Eight reindeers? I’ll be damned! Count again!!

Underling 1: Vixen

Underling 2: Blixen

Underling 3: Dasher

Underling 4: Dancer

Underling 5: Prancer

Underling 6: Donner

Underling 7: Blitzen

Underling 8: Cupid

Underling 9: Rudolph

Underling 10 stands in silence

Cook, Ha, I knew it. There were more than eight. Who said eight? Eight. Yeah. Yeah. See underlings this is the difference between me and you. I fuckin‘ know things. Eight reindeers. We think of somethin‘ for you.             ( points to Underling 10 )

( It knocks against the door )

Cook: Jesus fuckin Christ, haven’t even finished my first cuppa. What do you want?

Sweet canteen lady: Cook, we need the list with today’s dishes! 10 Minutes!

Cook: Workin‘ on it, sweet canteen lady!

( The underlings 1-10 nod in silence )

Cook: Alright then. What do we have so far?

Underling 5: Roast Turkey, cook.

Cook: That’s a good one.

Underling 8: We need to come up with something for the vegetarians.

Cook: Fuckin‘ grasseaters.

Underling 1: What vegetables do we have left over from yesterday?

Underling 3: Some mushrooms. Some 40 packages or so.

Underling 4: Green peppers from Tuesday!

Underling 7: Celery. Plenty of it.

Underling 9: The sweet canteen lady says in the pantry are plenty of tins with green peas. They have to be finished before the end of the year.

Cook ( grunts ): Good. Let’s throw them altogether.

Underling 10: But we need some sauce, cook.

Cook: What’s wrong with my turkey gravy, eh?

Underling 10: Nothing cook, I just thought…

Cook: Now he starts to think! Jesus, workin‘ with these lads. Should charge them some extra money for it.

Underling 4: Cook, how do you want to call the dish?

Cook: What’s our main dish?

Underlings 1-10: Roasted Turkey, cook.

Cook: Jesus, why are you shoutin‘ like this? I am not deaf.

Cook: Roasted vegetables. Roasted vegetables that’s fancy enough, eh?

Underling 5: But Cook, don’t you…

Cook: What are you lingering around here anyway? See the potatoes over there? All yours.

Sweet canteen lady: Cook, do you have the list with today’s dishes?

Anyway it was rather a vegetable goulash than anything else. You see as a non-pork eater in Ireland you sometimes eat a vegetable goulash while thinking its roasted vegetable or the other way around. The mashed potatoes ( with herbs! with herbs! ) were pretty tasty. The rest, well…

What? Roasted Vegetables with mashed potatoes ( instead of rice )

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Yap.

 

Surviving in Ireland as a non-pork eater (II)

IMG_3766 (1)If it wouldn’t rain  pour outside constantly since 10 AM I would probably have had a soup somewhere else, but I am an approved klutz and with my talent I surely would have slipped out on the pavement and dived into a puddle. No this isn’t as funny as it might seem to you. You on the other hand would have missed today’s non-pork option in the canteen. Wouldn’t this be a pity? So here it comes: Vegetable pasta. Boring you might say, Read On, you are so boring. Well, this might look like ordinary pasta with vegetables on it ( the vegetables discovered included: carrots, peas ( it’s Ireland after all ), mushrooms, some rocket leaves, and stone-hard black olives but the whole dish was quite a bit of a mystery. First of all, it was spicy. The canteen normally praises itself in tasteless cooking. ( I by the way believe that these efforts definitely should be honoured. It is quite hard not to use spices at all, isn’t it? ) But today the pasta was spicier than anything I ever had in the canteen, ever. On the other hand the spicy sauce was definitely no pasta sauce at all. It resembled from far a base for a curry, but quite from afar. Maybe the cook had planned something else, which didn’t work out all and in a certain momentum of boldness decided to spice up our day? Who knows? Maybe the cook simply has a cold, sneezed hard and 1,2, 3 the whole spice collection of the canteen landed in the vegetarian pot? This pasta definitely left me a good bit irritated.I repeat myself but surviving in Ireland as a non-pork eater is not easy and sometimes even a bit mysterious.

What? Vegetable Pasta

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Mysterioulsy, but yes.

Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland (I)

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Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland is not that easy. The Irish love pork. It truly is everywhere. Here I discovered for the first time that such things as a combined Chicken-Pork-Sandwich really does exist in reality. I wouldn’t be surprised either if there existed such things as chocolate-pork-cookies or pork-flavoured ice-cream. You easily see: the stakes for a convinced non-pork eater are high. So enter the glamorous world of Read On’s attempts to keep up the spirits while not touching pork. ( My grandmother by the way even ate liver sausage in front of a rabbi visiting her). Well, I won’t. Today’s survival ration: Red Thai Vegetable Curry with rice. The vegetables I was able to uncover were: celery ( an all-Irish classic, eggplant, red peppers, onions, green peppers and maybe a mushroom, but I am not too sure of that.) The rice was okay, but Mrs Rajasthani would smack me with a soup ladle if I would say this in front of her. No I know, it has nothing to do with curry, however it was not the worst thing ever I had in the canteen. I know how it looks. I know. I really do know.

What? Red Thai Vegetable Curry with Rice

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Yep.

 

Beef

The peppered beef looks not too bad I think and order a plate. B. takes the same. We struggle a while before we finally find a free table. Sometimes it seems the whole university gathers at this tiny place that is rather euphemistically called „The Buttery.“ The beef smells not too tempting. Something is wrong with the smell I think, but am not quite able to define what it could be. B. asks and she does so while already wolfing down big pieces of the beef stir: How was India, by the way? Intense I say and she nods. „All the colors“, she says and of“ course the glorious food.“ I pick up a piece of carrot and don’t say that during these long days I spent in the slum, food only came into my mind as a consistent missing factor. I never count calories, but in the slum I do: „How many calories more do we need“ is a consistently ringing question at the back of my mind. B. however, praises an Indian place where she once had orgasm-like buttered chicken. I am not quite sure if I want to find out anything about the nature of B.’s orgasms, but they don’t seem to be too tempting for me. The beef tastes lousy and dry but the rice is okay. It would be as average as canteen food normally is, if not for the smell. B. looks at me and is clearly disappointed. I know that I fail in entertaining people with adventurous stories from India, but I don’t have any to tell. B. in opposite has many stories to tell. She shows me youtube videos of cats doing funny things and I try hard to stifle a yawn. I couldn’t care less and I am always astonished how amused people can get about dancing cats. And this irritating smell that makes me feel nauseous. I sniff at the green beans and the rice but they smell of nothing, I wonder if maybe my nose is playing awful tricks or I am just loosing my mind on a rainy day at the beginning of October. B. talks about a splendid wedding in Scotland that included a free bar and mountains of lobsters. Quite vividly she explains me, using her fork and knife how she cracks open such an animal. Lobster I think and try not too offensively sniff again at the beef, trying to identify the herbs that stick all over the meat. Lobster, I think again and see again the girl, who was maybe fourteen years old, pregnant, being a tiny child herself. “ We cracked her open like I lobster I think“ and now definitely feel sick. Impossible it has become to eat a single bit more. Sick, I feel, sick to the bones and throw out the food. Lemongrass, I think, it was lemongrass while scraping clean my plate, lemongrass boiled for hours, with its penetrant, repugnant, perfume-like smell and I try not too look into the waste bin. B. hasn’t interrupted yet and luckily did not even recognize that I wasn’t even listening and so I nod to her tale of that ‚hell of a wedding‘. ( I totally agree to the hell part) and try to breathe in and out. In and out.

Prunes

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The elderly couple that owns the garden moved away a few years ago. Or better the children cleared the house before the parents followed. All of this happened in a hurry, the parents disappeared  nearly as quickly as the carpets, cupboards and porcelain cats, who sat for a lifetime on the broad  windowsills. The children were not interested in the garden that still today is not directly attached to the house. The garden once a paradise lies a bit backward behind a wooden fence. Still today, the keys for the garden are in the brown bowl close to my door. Being absent during the summer months means to find the garden in a state of wilderness. I would not be surprised when soon monkeys and tigers will appear from the depths of the thick and green grass and shrubbery. Last year the children sent a company and the men who brought beer bottles and heavy machinery, cut down all the trees beside of one, old-aged plum tree. The plum tree looks exactly like one of those trees you can admire on Japanese prints. Often I come in spring to sit under its crown and I spent countless hours reading while leaning with my back against its trunk. Every September I search in the cellar for the two big brown baskets and the wooden ladder and for long hours I lean half on the ladder and half on the tree, filling my apron with plums till the two brown wooden baskets are overloaded with plums. I make plum juice with lemon, I make various kinds of plum jam with vanilla or lemon zest. I make plum soup and a few hands full of plums I fish and raw, the sweet juice dripping down from chin. Three glasses of plum jam I send to the elderly couple that lives so far away now from the tree and its shadow and I honestly doubt if they ever get to see fresh plums in their residence. But the two last kilogram of plums I use to make a cake. But it is not an ordinary plum-cake but my attempt that- of course- always fails to make the exact same plum cake as my grandmother did. My grandmother was the most impatient person that was ever born, but when it came to baking she had patience enough for a world to last. A swiss roll she said, is the quickest cake ever made, not longer than half an hour from making the dough to the oven, an excellent idea for guests coming at short notice. Whenever I make a swiss roll, I fight for hours against the stubborn dough that never is as smote as it should be to make a  nice looking roll. My grandmother just shook her head whenever I cursed yeast that did not want to rise or laughed at my inability to whip cream the way she did. My grandmother’s whipped cream was as hard as concrete and consisted of a secret ingredient she never told me. However, the plum-cake was another of those cakes prepared at short notice. Two large bowls of flour you need, that should make together 400 grams. Take handful then and make a hollow, for the yeast either dry or fresh, warm up a cup of milk and stir the ingredients carefully together with your fingers. This is of importance my grandmother and I swear she was the queen of the plum-cake, only ever used her fingers to prepare the dough. „The dough, my child she said, is living thing.“ Let the prepared piece rest for fifteen minutes. In fifteen minutes you can read Bert Brechts poem the plum-tree or you can read the poem while removing the stones from the prunes. Cut the prunes from both sides on the top and while doing so eat one or two and lick up the juice from your chin. Then get back to your dough and add one egg, two egg yolks, orange zest, 80 gram of brown sugar, the rest of the flour and a good, big cup of lukewarm milk, knead the dough again with your hands, not too angry and not too soft, then let the dough rest again and rest yourself. Twenty minutes later you spread the dough on a greased baking tray and arrange the prunes as you like them best. Bake the cake in the preheated oven ( 180 Degrees ) for twenty minutes, but five minutes before you take out the cake of the oven, sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the cake and be careful prune juice tends to think he is a cousin of the Vesuvius. Lukewarm and fresh out of the oven, the cake tastes as its best. Even if it still does not taste the same way as when my grandmother made it, looking at me, smiling and saying that nothing is easier than this.