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

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Sometimes I think there must be a competition. Something like „European championship of preparing the worst canteen dishes“ or All-world finals of the worst vegeterian dishes.“ Otherwise it would be really hard to explain why the canteen serves food as today’s dish. The name alone should have frighten me away: „Cheese Macaroni Pasta.“ You got the idea? Don’t tell me you are never having pasta with more pasta? This however was exactly what today’s dish was all about. On the plate there was pasta covered in a sauce I am not able to identify: anything from mayonnaise to cream cheese dissolved in water would be perfectly plausible because the sauce did not taste of anything at all. The pasta was covered by cheese. But if I would abstain to use the term cheese for the hard and yellow crust that served as a glue on top of the dish. As the pasta itself the cheese crust did not taste of anything not even a large amount of salt and pepper did change this situation for the worse or for the better. Beyond those named ingredients there were tiny, tiny pieces visible that remind from afar of spring onion. They were so tiny and so few that I can’t say for sure if its true or just imagination. This was it. No single piece of vegetable, no sauce, no spices, not even the omnipresent celery  was added to at least evoke the illusion of consideration and care for those people who do not eat meat. If this dish entered the competition it surely would win a gold medal for being able to prepare a disastrous dish with no taste and absolutely not a single vitamin. Congratulations. Well deserved!

What?  Cheese Macaroni Pasta

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Speechless

 

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

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It can’t be helped, I am afraid.

Sometimes things change over night. Especially when living in Ireland. You can go asleep thinking of not much more than you need to buy washing powder and in the morning you hear on the radio that Apple owes 13 Billion Euros in tax return to the little island in the Western Atlantic. The grocer’s wife has heard so too. “Oh Read On”, she sighs „I could use a bit of that money to get a new refrigerator for the shop.“ I nod in full agreement. But I won’t tell you what she said about the Irish government not wanting that money. But better it would be fro Enda Kenny not entering the shop of the grocer’s wife. However I am drifting away, because many things stay exactly the same. The weather ( grey and drizzle ) and of course the food in the canteen. I can reassure you, it is as strange as ever. A more warm welcome to the bleak realities you face as a non-pork eater in Ireland could hardly be possible. The sign reads: “Three bean-curry with rice.” I was scratching my head. This really does sound suspicious. But only the brave and the very hungry will make it through and so I nodded when the sweet canteen lady passed me the plate. Here ya go darlin’. Here she goes. The beans turned out to be chickpeas and whites beans, which had been too long in the pot and were burnt black. Even when searching forceful with my fork I couldn’t detect a third species. The beans came- remember some things just stay the same- with celery, onions, reminders of red peppers and zucchini. The sauce reminded from afar of a mixture of baked bean sauce spiced up with Tabasco. I am sparing you the details. I hate wasting food but here I gave up. The half-burnt beans were just that tiny bit too much. “Its all bonkers” as the grocer’s wife would put it, but these are her words of course not mine.

What? Three bean curry with rice.

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Only halfway.

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

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You all are dead right. I neglected my duty of showing you and the world the wonders of the vegetarian option in the canteen. I know I deserve your quizzical brows and disappointed looks, but here we go again. You can see nothing has changed. Today the cook decided to finally use up all zucchini someone must have ordered without knowing what to do with them further. So may the non-pork eaters suffer from an zucchini overload, as long as it not us ,it is fine. The cook quite optimistically called the dish: „Vegetarian curry with rice“ as if exoticism ever helped to disguise blunt failure. Mrs Rajasthani, Queen of the curry would just snort angrily and dismiss the whole idea of this dish being even a close relative of an Indian curry. Unfortunately, Delhi and Mrs Rajasthani are far away and on a drizzle Dublin Tuesday, this is what you get. Vegetables discovered: chickpeas, zucchini ( loads of them ), a few pieces of green pepper, a fizzle of red pepper, onions, sour aubergines and of course my old and best enemy: celery. The curry sauce was surprisingly hot, even if I could not make out any spices. Maybe the cook just has a big jar standing next to him called „indifferent spice for various purposes“ use carefully. But what do I know about such matters? The book by the way, whose cover matches so stunningly with the colour of the dish is about 17th century vermilion making. What a coincidence!

What? Vegetable Curry with rice.

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? It can’t be helped, can’t it?

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.