A full Irish breakfast

Farm Forum

My wife and I have been remiss about observing St. Patrick’s Day but we made up for it recently by downing a full Irish breakfast that was served to us by a squadron of roller derby ladies.

News of this breakfast event was texted to us by a friend named Mike. We know several Mikes, but this particular fellow is a native of Ireland. He is one of the few people I personally know who routinely uses “aye” in its proper context as in, “Aye, ‘tis a shame about the Vikings!”

If Mike ever tires of being a successful businessman, he could always embark upon a new career as a voiceover actor for Lucky Charms TV commercials.

The Full Irish Breakfast event was held at Wooden Legs Brewery, a local brew pub. I was intrigued by the menu which included such things as white pudding, black pudding and rashers. I didn’t know what any of these things were, but I’m a guy who will voluntarily consume lutefisk. In other words, I’ll eat almost anything.

We arrived at Wooden Legs Brewery shortly after the breakfast was slated to begin and the joint was already mobbed. It was as if 9:00 a.m. were the new Happy Hour.

We eventually located Mike, who was in the kitchen making sure that the Irish breakfast was being properly prepared. He explained that after he had gotten wind of this event, he had volunteered his services to ensure that the Full Irish Breakfast would indeed be a Full Irish Breakfast.

The waitresses were wearing garb that might be described as “ironic post-Punk retro.” Most of them wore shorts along with tattered fishnet stockings and T-shirts with their nicknames emblazoned across their backs. Among them were Candy Insane, Boobonic Babe and Thoreau-her.

Mike explained that the ladies were members of Midwest Maidens, a local roller derby team. This took me back. When I was a kid, we would watch Saturday afternoon roller derby bouts on TV. My impression is that roller derby is a semi-organized brawl that takes place as opposing teams roller skate around a circular track. It’s a very rough-and-tumble sport, so anyone who mistreated the Irish Breakfast wait staff did so at their own risk.

Besides the black and white puddings and the rashers, the Full Irish Breakfast included Irish sausage, fried tomato, fried eggs, fried mushrooms and a generous slab of homemade bread. Everything was fried save for the bread and the beer.

I asked Mike if this was truly typical of an Irish breakfast.

“Aye, ‘tis,” he replied. “Back on the farm, we would eat a breakfast like this and be set for the day!”

Including the beer?

“We Irish don’t need an excuse to enjoy a good beer!” replied Mike, a twinkle in his eye.

What are those so-called “rashers?”

“In Ireland, we make bacon with the pork loin. The bacon you have in America we would call streaky bacon. You only serve streaky bacon if you’re poor.”

All the chitchat about food – and watching plates full of the stuff go by – had made me incredibly hungry. Enough talk! Let’s eat!

My wife and I were soon tucking into our Irish breakfasts. The black pudding, as advertised, was extremely black, but it’s not what we Americans would call “pudding.” It’s more of a sausage that started out as pig blood.

It was also quite scrumptious, with a good bit of spice at work. My wife took a pass on the black sausage, which didn’t surprise me. She also turns up her nose at lutefisk.

The white pudding was nicely seasoned. My understanding is that white pudding often contains oatmeal and various leftover pig parts. Snouts should not be ruled out.

The Irish sausage was quite tasty. This product is often called “bangers” in Ireland due to the fact that they can burst open while cooking. It’s the popcorn of the tubular meat world.

Rashers as different from American bacon as hamburger is from apple pie. Irish rashers are tasty and tender and surprisingly lean.

I contemplated the cultural significance of this assortment of foodstuffs. The different sausages were a reminder that back in the day, they used virtually every part of the pig. And done right, these various parts can be quite delectable.

The only item that puzzled me were the mushrooms, although I suppose they were a reminder that Ireland is a very damp country. And washing it all down with beer is just common sense; after all, carbohydrates are an important part of every balanced breakfast.

Our Full Irish Breakfast left us feeling very, very full. We need to repay Mike somehow. I wonder if I can talk Wooden Legs Brewery into holding a lutefisk feed?

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