Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland (XI)

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Sometimes I think there must be a competition. Something like “European championship of preparing the worst canteen dishes” or All-world finals of the worst vegeterian dishes.” Otherwise it would be really hard to explain why the canteen serves food as today’s dish. The name alone should have frighten me away: “Cheese Macaroni Pasta.” You got the idea? Don’t tell me you are never having pasta with more pasta? This however was exactly what today’s dish was all about. On the plate there was pasta covered in a sauce I am not able to identify: anything from mayonnaise to cream cheese dissolved in water would be perfectly plausible because the sauce did not taste of anything at all. The pasta was covered by cheese. But if I would abstain to use the term cheese for the hard and yellow crust that served as a glue on top of the dish. As the pasta itself the cheese crust did not taste of anything not even a large amount of salt and pepper did change this situation for the worse or for the better. Beyond those named ingredients there were tiny, tiny pieces visible that remind from afar of spring onion. They were so tiny and so few that I can’t say for sure if its true or just imagination. This was it. No single piece of vegetable, no sauce, no spices, not even the omnipresent celery  was added to at least evoke the illusion of consideration and care for those people who do not eat meat. If this dish entered the competition it surely would win a gold medal for being able to prepare a disastrous dish with no taste and absolutely not a single vitamin. Congratulations. Well deserved!

What?  Cheese Macaroni Pasta

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Speechless

 

Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland(X)

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It can’t be helped, I am afraid.

Sometimes things change over night. Especially when living in Ireland. You can go asleep thinking of not much more than you need to buy washing powder and in the morning you hear on the radio that Apple owes 13 Billion Euros in tax return to the little island in the Western Atlantic. The grocer’s wife has heard so too. “Oh Read On”, she sighs “I could use a bit of that money to get a new refrigerator for the shop.” I nod in full agreement. But I won’t tell you what she said about the Irish government not wanting that money. But better it would be fro Enda Kenny not entering the shop of the grocer’s wife. However I am drifting away, because many things stay exactly the same. The weather ( grey and drizzle ) and of course the food in the canteen. I can reassure you, it is as strange as ever. A more warm welcome to the bleak realities you face as a non-pork eater in Ireland could hardly be possible. The sign reads: “Three bean-curry with rice.” I was scratching my head. This really does sound suspicious. But only the brave and the very hungry will make it through and so I nodded when the sweet canteen lady passed me the plate. Here ya go darlin’. Here she goes. The beans turned out to be chickpeas and whites beans, which had been too long in the pot and were burnt black. Even when searching forceful with my fork I couldn’t detect a third species. The beans came- remember some things just stay the same- with celery, onions, reminders of red peppers and zucchini. The sauce reminded from afar of a mixture of baked bean sauce spiced up with Tabasco. I am sparing you the details. I hate wasting food but here I gave up. The half-burnt beans were just that tiny bit too much. “Its all bonkers” as the grocer’s wife would put it, but these are her words of course not mine.

What? Three bean curry with rice.

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Only halfway.

Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland (IX)

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You all are dead right. I neglected my duty of showing you and the world the wonders of the vegetarian option in the canteen. I know I deserve your quizzical brows and disappointed looks, but here we go again. You can see nothing has changed. Today the cook decided to finally use up all zucchini someone must have ordered without knowing what to do with them further. So may the non-pork eaters suffer from an zucchini overload, as long as it not us ,it is fine. The cook quite optimistically called the dish: “Vegetarian curry with rice” as if exoticism ever helped to disguise blunt failure. Mrs Rajasthani, Queen of the curry would just snort angrily and dismiss the whole idea of this dish being even a close relative of an Indian curry. Unfortunately, Delhi and Mrs Rajasthani are far away and on a drizzle Dublin Tuesday, this is what you get. Vegetables discovered: chickpeas, zucchini ( loads of them ), a few pieces of green pepper, a fizzle of red pepper, onions, sour aubergines and of course my old and best enemy: celery. The curry sauce was surprisingly hot, even if I could not make out any spices. Maybe the cook just has a big jar standing next to him called “indifferent spice for various purposes” use carefully. But what do I know about such matters? The book by the way, whose cover matches so stunningly with the colour of the dish is about 17th century vermilion making. What a coincidence!

What? Vegetable Curry with rice.

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? It can’t be helped, can’t it?

Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland ( VIII)

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Friday. Probably the cook wants to empty the fridge and the pantry. The weekend is long and who knows what will happen to the corn and the peas in the meantime? This is a risk the cook doesn’t want to take on. And as long as there are non-pork eaters, there is hope: why not processing all those leftover vegetables into a patty and call it a vegetable burger? Brilliant isn’t it? And here we go: the burger consisted mainly of mashed potatoes, a few peas and corn. If you want to imagine the taste: think of mashed potatoes you made on Sunday and re-heat it at three consecutive days. I think you can’t get much closer. Nearly no salt or pepper was spent on this dish. Its getting rid of things that counts not adding stuff, when emptying the fridge. The salad, if you are optimistic enough to call the few leaves that, were surprisingly fresh but pretty tasteless.The exception: a piece of green pepper, which was one of most bitter things I ever ate. Who would have thought the cook being so subtle that he let the week end with a bitter taste, before the sweet weekend appears?

What? Vegetable Burger with salad and garlic sauce ( I can’t eat garlic sauce especially not in public. I have no clue either why a canteen would serve it anyway.)

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Yes, with a bitter aftertaste.

Surviving as a non-Pork eater in Ireland (VII)

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I don’t know. I really don’t know. When the sweet canteen lady handed this dish over to me I looked at the thing in front of me and for a moment I was lost for words. A brick with wet concrete before a last yellow leaf descended on it would make a good capture for an art exhibition in the Meatpacking district in New York, but for a dish it is rather depressing. But maybe the cook had failed selling his artworks to wealthy patrons and now strikes back? In the dull reality of my life however, it is Thursday afternoon and the thing in front of me on the plate is called a “Vegetable Enchilada.” Who would have guessed that?  It tasted exactly like it looks: ghastly. Nevertheless for the order of things: the vegetables discovered were: onions ( plenty ), celery ( there is no dish without celery in this country ), shreds of red and green peppers, spinach ( this is at least what I think the half-brown-half dark green leaves I found were and last but not least carrots ( spring is coming ). The brick itself was covered in industrial cheese and unsalted or otherwise seasoned tomato sauce,which made things rather worse than better. But probably there is a day in life when one eats a yellowish coloured brick and definitely isn’t in an exciting exhibition but in a rather sober canteen.

What? Vegetable Enchilada

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Luck always favors the brave.

Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland (VI)

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I don’t know. Thursday definitely isn’t the cook’s most beloved day of the week. I assume he secretly calls it: “throw-all-leftovers-together-and-call-it-the-vegetarian-dish-day.” Today he went for: Vegetable tartlets with potatoes and vegetables. Uff. The vegetable itself was extremely watery and without any taste at all. Okay. We’re used to this. But the vegetable tartlets were worse. Their filling: carrots, goat cheese and their glorious highlight: pickled beans. Whoever puts pickled beans into a vegetable tartlet? I am not quite sure why pickled beans exist anyway. But I am just not getting it. Pickled beans. The tartlet itself: watery. Maybe the cook is lovesick and cries into the pots and pans? Who knows? The potatoes: let’s keep silent. They look like potatoes but were soft as butter. But after the pickled beans I am absolutely unable to wail about the common Irish tendency to cook the last inch of life out of vegetables. I mean: pickled beans. I always knew that surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland would be a challenge but today was just a little bit too much. Pickled beans.

What? Vegetable tartlets with vegetable and potatoes.

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 5 Euro

Survived? Well, I honestly can’t answer this.

Surviving as a non-pork eater in Ireland (V)

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I was very late today and the sweet canteen lady ( all of the canteen ladies are very sweet indeed ) had to shake her head. “No vegetarian dish left today”, she said. So I went for the non-porkish meat dish. Beef Keema. I shouldn’t have done, firstly I became homesick immediately, just while reading the name and secondly Mrs Rajasthani proud of the secrets of Indian cuisine would have stormed into the kitchen to give the dish the name it deserves. However, the rice was dry but not overcooked, beside of the beef the dish consisted of: overcooked potatoes, mushy peas and onions ( the Irish standard ). To my great surprise: no celery. What happened to the celery-is-a-must-policy if the cook? The main problem: the dish was spicy, but it did not taste of anything. No explosion of curry powder or the breath-taking smell of chili or the refined spice of garam masala. Just an indefinite spiciness that tasted of absolutely nothing. Very strange thing. Quite hard to do I assume.

What? Beef Keema with rice and pita bread

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 5 Euro

Survived? Yes, but with a very strange feeling of nothingness.