Excuse me dear, I’m hungry tonight.
Leopold Bloom, Ulysses.
Morsels were mighty in the land of Joyce – the Dublin of coming and goings, a fair city of the very poor and the very rich, a capital city full of idealists and wretches.
What passed between their lips, down their gullet and out the other end – let’s face it, Joyce was scatological – revealed much about who these denizens were, what they wanted and, more importantly, what they lacked.
I Am A Traveller In A HipsterLand
Having gone back to the aul sod over the Christmas holidays, one’s mind inevitably turns to what will be on the plate. One can imagine sausages and bacon spilling over, Irish butter making love to Irish bread, and a cup of tea made by a being who is not suspicious of a hot, dark drink that isn’t coffee.
But also it is possible to note how quickly things change. Shops pop up and others fold, and the nation asserts its economic confidence through expensive eateries and chic restaurants.
Which is fine. But a nagging doubt tells me that even more people are getting left behind and that the gap between the haves and have-nots can be measured through where you get your bacon.
Making A Killing On Breakfast – A Poem
The pigs, alright –
Delicious and all that
so I’ll let it slide
as morsels of taste
fighting for life in bloody ketchup
and the sinister earth tones of wholemeal bread
how much for a fry-up?
You’re killing me here
and I can’t let double homicide slide
like runny eggs over sliced sausages
and Michael Jackson pudding –
it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white.
It’s called what?
West Isle rasher?
Beans marinated in a Moses Red Sea?
As I part with my cash, coins crying from a purse
Notes licking the thin lips of a wallet
Mushrooms picked from the Black Forest –
or a black forest.
Hopefully not the cake.
The waiter taps impatiently
as I spy the tatty bus station through the window.
Waffles cost extra, and I choose which one of my kids
goes to college.
The pigs are dead!
A silver oven cremates them thoroughly.
Priests in tall, white hats perform turning rituals.
A smell rises and pork souls go to heaven.
The pigs are dead.
And so is my right to eat a sausage,
which now has ideas above its station.
Once humble and equal on the plate,
the ones from the north country make
one mad grab for power.
Take the plate.
Take the rich.
Take the money.
Some Final Thoughts
There was a time in Irish history when the elites ate sugar and the peasants ate fish and other components of what today would be considered a super-diet. Not only does that speak of the irrationality of value setting, but it is also a commentary on how things which are innately part of our physical and emotional geography are sold back to us as commodities.
It’s fun to eat in nice restaurants filled with glorious food, with nibbles named after ideas and concepts from all over the world. I don’t doubt that. The idea of gentrification and commodification is not entirely bad, but it’s not entirely good either.
And while in many ways the Irish economy is currently the best in Europe and there are many who can enjoy this culinary explosion, there are those who struggle.
These modern denizens who are excluded by budget from breakfast bars and from so much of modern Ireland.
You can listen to our podcast on RadioPublic, the aural place of culture and insight! Also, why not take a look at this article? It’s about learning Irish, but it also delves into how language can shape identity.
Thanks for reading!