The Place for real traditions.Irish Culture begins in prehistory. First was a paleolithic mindset-based on hunting. The spirits of animals aid in this. Groups had totems- birds, boar,for identity. Next came a Neolithic awareness- crops, agriculture,farm animals. Villages and lineages. Multiple gods became single gods with many powers. Chieftains by birth ruled. Next the Bronze age with rule by heroes. We got cookbooks and recipes left the mind. How do we know what to do? That's our purpose.

Irish Chieftain's feast

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Corn Cake-the Yellow Indian and the Famine

William Bennett and his son had visited that part, in March, distributing donations at his own expense mostly, and his painful descriptions had awakened a strong desire to see for myself, and though I had no means in hand, had reason to hope that there might be some on the ocean. I took the coach for Derry, a few miles from that town. The mother of Miss Hewitson was to meet me in her own carriage, and conduct me to her house in Bossgarrow. Derry had not suffered so much as many other towns, and a stranger passing through would not notice anything peculiar from the condition in past years. But this little relief was but to make what followed appear the more painful. Mrs. Hewitson met me with her son, and we took tea at a delightful little mansion on the sloping side of one of Ireland's green lawns, looking down upon a beautiful lake. And is there, I asked, on this pretty spot, misery to be found ?—" Come and see," was the answer of my kind friend. It was twilight when we stepped into the carriage, and few painful objects met us till we reached her dwelling.

Her paternal cottage was nestled in a pretty wood, its roof thatched, and its windows shaded by the creeping vine in front. On one end, a window gave one of the most beautiful peeps upon a lake that can be imagined ; and the back contained a garden which was one of the most pleasant retreats I had met, for the gooseberry was just ripe. Here had this discreet, this "virtuous woman," lived, and by precept and example trained a family of sons and daughters, which will, which do arise and call her blessed. Her husband had been an officer, and was then receiving a small pension, and during the first season of the famine had been employed by government as an overseer of the Board of Works. His heart had become sickened at the scenes which came under his eye, some sketches of which have been before the public.

The morning lighted up a pretty cottage, well ordered, and the breakfast-table presented a treat unseen before by me in Ireland. Instead of the bread, butter, tea, and egg, which are the height of the best Irish breakfast, there was a respectable corn-cake, made as it should be, suitable accompaniments of all kinds, with the best of cream for me ; and were it not that the hungry had then commenced their daily usages of assembling in crowds about the house for food, that breakfast would have been a pleasant one. When I had ascertained that her husband had been in America, and from him she had been told of the virtues of corn-cake, and that her skill had been exercised till she had brought it to perfection—it was valued if possible still more. Had the Irish mothers throughout Ireland managed as did this woman, their task in the famine would have been much lighter—the poor, many more of them, would have been saved, and multitudes who have gone down might have retained their standing. Had the higher classes known how to have changed the meal into the many palatable shapes as did this economical housekeeper, when the wheaten loaf was so high, immense money might have been saved to all parties. It was brought in such disrepute by bad cooking, that many would be ashamed to be found eating it, and one man who was begging most earnestly for food, when offered some of this prepared in the Irish style, turned away in contempt, saying, " No, thank God, I've never been brought to ale the yeller indian."

- Lights and Shades of Ireland. Asenath Nicholson, 1858.