By Gerry Moran
Question: where on High Street can you purchase a pint of milk or rather a litre of milk? Think about that for a moment or two. And the answer? You can’t! You can buy a pint of Guinness, a pint of Smithwicks, a pint of whatever you’re having yourself but you can’t buy a pint of milk!
You can buy an espresso, an Americano, a late (skinny late even) a cappuccino but you can’t buy a pint of milk. You can buy a shirt, a suit, a pair of shoes, a summer dress, a hat, a scarf, a pair of tights, but not a pint of milk. And you can buy cream, any God’s amount of creams as in beauty creams, but you can’t buy a pint of milk. You can buy Aran sweaters, duvets, delph, fajitas, nachos, sashimi, a bacon brie melt, a snickerbocker glory, a charm bracelet but not a carton of milk.
I find this incredible; you can buy just about any commercial product under the sun (perfumes, papers, books, baguettes, batteries) but you can’t buy a pint of milk on our main thoroughfare, our High Street! Not that I ever get a longing for a pint of milk when on High Street – a pint of the black stuff perhaps but not a pint of the white stuff. Still, I find it very strange.
Maybe I’ll open a little huckster shop that specialises in milk – full milk, skimmed milk, goat’s milk, oat milk, almond milk, butter milk, even sour milk (for the cooking). And I shall always remember going to the creamery with our billiy-cans for sour milk for our mothers to make wonderful, wholesome brown bread (all the tastier with salty country butter) that we didn’t, as youngsters, appreciate.
Mentioning my mother and her home cooking, here’s another question: where on High Street would you get a dumpling? Where on any street in Kilkenny would you get a dumpling? Where in any restaurant in Kilkenny, in any county, would you get a dumpling? Very few. If any. Whatever happened to dumplings that’s what I want to know? Remember dumplings? Lovely doughy, lumpy, scrumptious dumplings, bobbing about in a bowl of thick brown stew that our mammies made for us.
Warm, comforting, chewy dumplings that tasted of tender love and care. And home. You could go to just about every restaurant in Ireland (and God knows there’s plenty of them) you could go this very day, and every day for the next week or month or year, but I don’t believe you’ll ever find dumplings on the menu. Oh you’ll get quiche and lasagne and vol au vents and curries. But no dumplings. You’ll find crepes, croquettes and courgettes but you won’t find dumplings.
You’ll get Chinese food, Japanese food, Italian food, Turkish food. You’ll find vegetarian dishes, even vegan dishes. But you won’t find dumplings. You’ll probably be lucky to find stew on the menu. And, even if you do, it’ll more than likely be a dumpling-less stew.
I’m really down in the dumps over the absence of dumplings from our tables. Does anyone make them or cook them anymore? Are there any out there who serve dumplings to their children? Or maybe the modern home provider doesn’t know what a dumpling is. Is that possible? Please tell me it’s not. Then again I wouldn’t be surprised. I mean it’s all convenience food these days: pizzas, pies, burgers, fish fingers, sure the unfortunate dumpling doesn’t get a look in and the ubiquitous microwave is not helping.
I’m all for starting a Bring Back the Dumpling Campaign. I’m seriously thinking of getting together with a few concerned and committed dumpling-lovers and dropping a few lines to our restaurateurs about introducing dumplings to their respective menus. Just think of some of the interesting dishes they could serve: Glazed Dumplings & Tossed Salad; Dumplings with Duck Terrine & Orange Sauce; Slivers of Dumpling with Strips of Smokey Bacon; Dumplings with Baby Spinach, Sorrel & Sage (for the vegetarians and vegans) Dumpling Delight, a duo of springy Dumplings, smothered in rich brown gravy.
The possibilities are endless, well plentiful shall we say. I have even toyed with the idea of opening a Dumpling Store which would (think Dunkin’ Doughnuts) specialise in dumplings only.
On High Street.
Watch this space.