Last Sunday during a heavy downpour I retreated to the shelter of a musty murky old bookshop in Blackrock market. One eye on the books and one eye on the window so I could exit quickly as soon as it cleared.
Must not buy another book I thought and remembered the ever growing pile on my bed side table. But of course a purchase was never not going to happen and just as it started to look brighter my eyes were drawn to a little green book sitting precariously on a dusty pile beside the cash desk.
I was drawn in by the title “The Tailteann Cookery Book” and black and white images of Ras Tailteann passed through my mind as I started to flick through the pages. A treasure trove, a real find, recipes for bone broths and tapioca pudding, Eggs a la Metropole and Anchovies a la Rosamund. The bookseller said €5 and I said stick it in a bag.
But this was more than just a kitch or nostalgic purchace I realised as I gave it more attention over a coffee. It is the second addition of a book first printed in the early 30′s. It covers everything a housewife might need throughout the year from christmas cakes to dressed crab and a whole section on food for invalids.
The ingredients speak of a time when seasonal eating wasnt a hip catch all phrase on a restraunt blurb but a necessity and theres not an avecado or a quinoa dish I sight. All components (bar a bit of tinned fruit, anchovies and a few dried herbs) are bourn and bred of the soil of this country and beautiful arranged in simple recipies that reflect the style of the time. Its all about less choice and more make do with what you. Dishes may sound deceptivly posh with their a la this and that but really this is a simple book full of goodness.
But I am really struck with the use of so many things that are now discarded, how much more economical and uninfluinced by passing trends. There is strength, tradition and nutrition all present and represented in such an honest and innocent manner.