I am celebrating! Just two working days after I applied, the Home Office emailed me confirmation of my “settled status” in the UK. Hence a post with a food poem …
This stew combines two foods known since the earliest Irish literature. Bacon (tinne or senshaille) is mentioned many times in the medieval Vision of MacConglinne, as are sausages, particularly called Maróc, and another called Indrechtán. Leeks and oatmeal were no doubt used in the earliest form of Coddle, but since the eighteenth century, potatoes and onion have supplanted them.
The recipe for Dublin Coddle is in my copy of A Taste of Ireland in Food and in Pictures by Theodora Fitzgibbon. The magnificent black-and-white pictures (some of them well over a hundred years old) had been found “heaven knows where – by Miss Fitzgibbon’s husband, George Morrison, creator of the Gael-Linn films on 1916 and the civil war”. The book was published in 1968 and, having married a Dublin man, and believing that saying about the “way to a man’s heart” I bought it shortly after we married in 1973.
The poem was included in Sweet Tongues: Crocus book of food poems, published by Commonword in 2013.
Saturday supper is a savoury stew.
Sausages, and slices of bacon.
Potatoes and onion supplanted
the oatmeal and leek. Enough stock
to barely cover, season to taste,
simmer slowly, let the liquid reduce.
Tears run down the steamy window.
Chopping parsley holds the pain.
One of us poured a steady Guinness;
the other already lost in the black
and salty taste of waiting.
Between us the open cookery book:
a small black and white picture,
North Earl Street, Dublin, 1904.
Blurred images of men in coats
and caps, horse-drawn cart, a sunny day.
A couple crosses the tramlines.
He carries bags in both hands.
She, to the right of him,
looks down to safely place her feet.