Sir- Right now there is probably no more patriotic service one can render the country, than learning how and what to cook. According to Mr. Kennedy, T.D., speaking at a meeting in Co. Westmeath, we are "miles behind other countries . . . ." so far behind, that the men folk are shying at the marriage mart! Refusing to change their state of single blessedness just because the women can't cook . . . . and why? Those who haven't had the opportunity of following a Domestic Science course, try to gain some kowledge of the subject from the daily papers, and heaven help them!
Much publicity has been given to Miss Keating's trip to America to supervise the preparation of a "typical" Irish menu for St. Patrick's Day.
Seemingly one must be prepared to spend at least twenty-four hours in the kitchen, and another twenty-four shopping. What Irish hoursehold would serve such a menu? How many of the required ingredients are available in Ireland, and how many of them are Irish produced? This was to be a menu reminiscent of Ireland; one that would bring nostalgic memories of the "ould country" to the exile.
The use of white wine, marigold leaves (save the mark!) juniper berries (out of season) dried pea pods (even if availabl), can hardly be considered as ordinary aids to true Irish cookery. Permitting the Dublin Bay prawns as prescribed - though how much simpler and more effective if they had been served on a spray of fresh clover, instead of congealed aspic jelly - we pass on to the "Golden Vale Soup."
This entails the purchase of varied meat bones, and a chicken's liver. Not to mention non-seasonal vegetables, such as celery, marrows, and parsnips. Where too are we to find the saffron, carmel, and leaves of marigold? Are we to plan for St. Patrick's Day meals in far back May and June, when planting a garden?
Labasheeda . . . . Why a duck with the salmon, chicken and ham?
The Crataloe item! Must we, like Noah, count guests and mushrooms two by two?
The "Tara Salad" is quite possible, but celery in this country is a minus quantity by March 17. Ever try to buy it at this time?
Shades of Loungh Corrib! How often, if ever, do we cook our salmon in buoillon and dry wine: and why should we? Our salmon has the flavour of clear water run over rich earth. Let's eat it that way.
The suggested sauce I ignore for what it is worth. Fennel leaves and one anchovy!
Boiled Limerick ham, and chickenby all means; it is typical of this country, year in and year out, for every occasion.
Clonmel Tart. Yes, certainly utilize out honey supply . . . . But why flowers of tansy, and where would one procure these? Why confuse ground and chopped Brazil nuts?
Cabbage, colcannon, and steamed potatoes. Surely this is a "miadh" One or the other, but not a conglomeration of all three.
Long may "the stomachs of the men be rotten because the food which is being served up by women," quotes Mr. Conroy. Nothing can stop the rot, if Irishwmen accept this Patrick's Day menu as the "ne plus ultra" of Irish culinary art.
In conclusion, by what standards are we Irishwomen judged to be poor cooks? There is always room for improvement, but why condemn, as a whole, because of isolated cases of bad family cooking, and the sometimes mediocre menus served in our hotels (generally due to the manager's personal lack of interest in food planning). Consider the canned meals in America, the highly seasoned and oil cooked foods of the continent - is that what our men want? Please come down to earth, and give us some help, and some practical advice with our cooking.
- E. L. Petrie (Mrs), 41 Harcourt Street, Dublin.