A Mystery, a Myth and More


Looking for this week’s recipes, I ran across Geraldine Duncann’s beautiful Web site thequestingfeast.com. Described as “a Web site for and about food and drink and the people who enjoy them”, several of her offerings stand out as special, March appropriate dishes connected with St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland and the bit of folklore that goes with them.

Duncann did a food column for the San Francisco Examiner and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner for several years and is the author of over a dozen cookbooks. Her first novel, a culinary mystery, Valley of Zin, published in 2007 (available through Amazon) sounds like my cup of tea (or coffee). She has three new books, Ariba: Vegan and Vegetarian Southwest Recipes, Artichoke Extravaganza and The English Country Kitchen scheduled for release over the next few months.

I found some interesting seasonal trivia on her Web site:

Why is there a cross always cut in the top of each loaf of Irish Soda Bread? It was once commonly thought that the Devil likes to hide in the flour sack. You cut a cross in the top to let the Devil out so he won’t ruin the loaf when he makes his escape.

Boxty on the griddle.
Boxty in the pan;
If you can no make a boxty,
You’ll never get a man.

This old rhyme isn’t politically correct by today’s standards; but it shows the importance of Boxty in the Irish diet. Boxty may be baked in a variety of ways: in the oven, in a pan, like soda bread or biscuits, or on the top of the stove like latkes. It may be served with sausage and eggs and syrup or jam for breakfast, or as an accompaniment to a lunch or dinner meal. Originally, it was just something that every wife could make to use up leftover mashed potatoes. .

At one time, any well-fixed household had a large wooden tub with a dasher or pestle called a “Beetle”, which was used to mash boiled potatoes. Another old rhyme came out of that:

There was an old woman who lived in a lamp.
She had no room to beetle her champ.
She’s up with her beetle and broke the lamp,
And then she had room to beetle her champ.

The Web site posts pictures of Irish sites in the town now known as Innisfree where the Academy Award winning movie, The Quiet Man was filmed. I decided this 1952 John Wayne picture, would be perfect St. Patrick’s Day entertainment for us since Mark is a John Wayne fan (and I tolerate him pretty well – that is, both Mark and John Wayne).

A groaner quote for March:

Never iron a four-leaf clover, because you don’t want to press your luck.
– Author unknown


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