History Through Taste

I have been reading recently about food fusion and hearing about it on food programmes.  Surely this concept has been around since Adam was a boy.

Perhaps we use the style of cooking which we are used to, then move to a new location where ingredients are different but we use the cooking techniques we know, to cook with the new ingredients.  Surely people have been doing this for hundreds of years.

There are cook books abounding with the fusion concept.  The concept is not new but if it draws people into cooking for themselves I for one am all for it.

I really enjoy reading cook books especially second-hand ones.  I like to imagine those other food lovers who have read and used the recipes within.  However, it is the books which have been both loved and used which I cherish the most.

Some of my reading memories are to do with cook books and tonight not being able to sleep I started to read a cook book which had belonged to my mother-in-law Sheila and which was recently given to me.

The book is only 9 inches long by 5 inches wide with less than a hundred pages.    The cover is intact but the spine will need repairing and it is obvious that this book was used over and over again.    It is called “the Tricity cookery book”.    It is a very straight forward cook book with only 4 colour plates.    There are a few sketches but this book is all about the recipes.   Some pages were used more often than others and I love the fact that it isn’t in pristine condition.   It was a book which was used.

Right beside it on my cookery shelf, I found “A taste of Ireland in food and pictures” by Theodora Fitzgibbon.  A friend of mine Rhona, who knows how much I love cookery books, gave it to me prior to moving to Charlton near Banbury in the United Kingdom to run The Rose and Crown.  If you get a chance to visit just try the superb food there.

Again, this is a small cookery book but it has a wealth of history together with the recipes.  The edition I have ,was published by Pan in 1971.   One odd thing about the recipes is that the quantities are not only given in imperial measurement as was used in Ireland at the time but also in U.S.  cup measurements.   However, on the back of the book there is an endorsement by the Irish Tourist Board. Perhaps this book was intended for the tourist industry mainly and that would explain the use of U.S. measurements.

The black and white photographs which accompany each recipe give more information on the times and evoke a sense of times past. The recipes cover everything from toffee to cruibíns. If you ever come across this book it is well worth a read especially if you are interested in social history or cookery.

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