Food for thought for GAA fans

Book proposal #812: a modernist novel in which a forlorn student searches Dublin up and down for recognisable GAA food ahead of a big match.

Food for thought for GAA fans

Excerpt: Stately, plump, Buck Mulligan came from the doughnut counter bearing his floury apron, inquiring of the forlorn figure: Come up, you fearful Jesuit.

Stephen, hungry, looked over the Boston Cremes and Lemon Specials: is there e’re a ham sandwich I could have?

They say you should write what you know, which always surprises me, because going on that advice the world would be a lot emptier of books about wizards and goblins than it is at the moment.

Anyway, while wandering the capital city over the weekend looking for something to eat ahead of the ‘feast’ of Gaelic games (see what I did there) it struck me that the casual cliche about Dublin’s food outlets is true.

There is no end to the bijou doughnut emporia and the availability of Asian street food, even if none of the latter is actually served on a street.

Given the expected influx of thousands of GAA supporters over the weekend, it also struck me that somebody should express the angst suffered by these poor souls as they try to make their way past the salad bars dishing out a side garnish of superiority, the bizarre retro gin mills with their faux-Victorian names complete with nonsense intials, and the burrito bars.

Especially the burrito bars. At one point I think I passed a burrito bar which had another burrito bar opening inside of it.

Excerpt: Mr Bloom Ate With Relish The Inner Organs Of Beasts And Fowls. A Shadow Fell Across The Plate. He Looked Up. Stephen, Belly Echoing, Looked On: A Black Pudding And A Slice Of Toast. Any Chance At All?

You probably think I’m exaggerating for effect. Far from it.

I was on Grafton Street last Saturday and it was pitiful to watch, the benighted souls in their Armagh and Tyrone and Monaghan jerseys keening outside the spot where Bewley’s used to be, weeping openly at the lack of a full Irish.

It’s amazing to me that in the rush to create these retro grocery-pubs, the likes of which would have been laughed at in The Quiet Man, some catering genius - who’d probably describe himself as a food ninjaneer, no doubt - hasn’t hit on this lucrative trade.

Serving food as it was served long ago, and not a deconstructed notion of same; as in, honest-to-God crubeens rather than ‘a new take on the trotter in organic cabbage-water’.

Excerpt: Mr Bloom ate his stripes of sandwich, fresh clean bread, with relish of disgust, pungent mustard, the feety savour of green cheese. Aanother face loomed over his plate. You again?

The crusts, said Stephen. You going to finish those or can I have them?

Anyway, you can consider the above by way of a health warning if you find yourself following your county to the capital in the near future.

If you’re somebody who can face into a couple of hours of close combat on Jones’ Road fuelled only by ramen and kimchi, long life to you.

The same if jerk chicken, rice and peas is your pre-battle meal of choice.

If not, then pack well. I recommend tinfoil, because with the exception of Davy Byrne’s, as mentioned above, a traditional pre-match sandwich can be hard to find in Dublin these days.

Making most of spectator experience

You can see below the result of my wandering Dublin for a day, with a nod to the man who made the cricketers of the Mardyke famous in one of his books.

I think it was Ray Cummins who said that the difference between a Munster final in Thurles and an All-Ireland final in Croke Park was that going to the latter you passed swathes of Dublin which were clearly unaware that there was a match taking place with thousands of spectators in attendance.

Clearly in Thurles — and by extension Killarney or Clones or similar venues — the event takes over the town for reasons of scale. If the influx outnumbers the indigenous population, that’s hardly surprising.

On the other hand, there’s something to be said for that as a spectator experience. You’re completely insulated from the tension, then you turn a corner and you’re plunged into the pre-game atmosphere.

Good to have that option.

When Vatican had a say in transfer deals

I suppose we have to talk about Neymar, the lithe ragamuffin.

(Am I the only one who thinks the Brazilian looks like an ex officio member of Kajagoogoo, or has everyone pointed it out?)

There have been the expected reactions, which you could call knee-jerk if that wasn’t a dreadful slur on a blameless joint.

Is there a collective amnesia at work here or - perish the thought - a conscious hyping up of the same jaded tropes?

For those of us old enough the days when Serie A was the ultimate in sophistication, and names like Lecce and Foggia marked the true soccer aesthete, there’s an echo here of the Gianluigi Lentini story.

Back in 1992 Lentini, possibly the most Italian-looking Italian of all time, was the subject of the most expensive transfer of all time, AC Milan spending £13 million to take him from Torino.

Famously at the time the Vatican said the fee and Lentini’s huge wages were an affront to the dignity of work, though one would have thought the Vatican had more pressing matters to attend to. Tragically, Lentini never got the chance to live up to his billing - he crashed his Porsche a year after the transfer and was lucky not to be killed: plagued by occasional blurred vision for years afterwards, he did incredibly well to even return to the playing field, never mind play professionally.

Yet who would remember Lentini now if it weren’t for that intervention from the Vatican?

In the upward graph of transfer fees his case proved to be just another peak which was soon overtaken.

The same with Neymar. It just takes a little time.

Space for thought on an interstellar recommendation

No book this Monday, but a different recommendation. The Farthest is an Irish documentary about the Voyager space probe, which left Earth back in 1977 and has travelled, what, 12bn miles or so, to become the first man-made object to reach interstellar space.

A hearty endorsement, even if you may leave questioning your place in the universe. Then again, does a day pass without feeling like that?

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