“May those who
Love us, love us.
And those that
Don’t love us
May God turn
And if he doesn’t
Turn their hearts
May he turn
So we’ll know them
By their limping.”
There is a lot of Irish wisdom floating around this week: some sappy; some satirical. But none
embodies the true Irish spirit for me as much as this simple Irish poem.
“So we’ll know them by their limping” – That just sums it all up nicely….
We lived in Ireland for a year.
Our house was a typical terrace or row house: two rooms deep by three floors high. It was old. The walls were two feet thick and it had recently been remodeled to add a kitchen and bathroom. We were right across the water from Cobh harbor (pronounced ‘cove’) where over 2.5 million emigrants embarked for a better place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
I had a large ottoman snuggled into one of the window spaces on the second floor. It fitted the space perfectly. I would sit in my little nook, have my morning coffee, write in my journal and watch the world go by.
This is how I became aware of the daily activities of our next-door neighbor, Mickey.
Each day, around mid-morning, Mickey would leave his house with a small plastic bag.
He would slowly meander across the street, walk along the walls of the pier for a bit, then lean over and look across the water…gazing out to sea, as it were. (Mickey had been a fisherman.)
When he stood back, the plastic bag was gone.
Then he would saunter over to the public outhouse and disappear. About fifteen minutes later he would emerge and walk briskly back across the street to his house, morning chores complete.
We never saw Mickey’s wife (although we heard her on more than one occasion).
We assume she ran a tight ship and did not allow certain ‘activities’ in her immaculate house. (Wha? Shit inside? In the house? Not in my house, you don’t!)
We only spoke to Mickey twice – not because he wasn’t friendly, but because we couldn’t understand him.
We assumed he was speaking Irish. Wrong, again!
Apparently, the local speech in County Cork (pronounced ‘cark’) is considered totally unintelligible
by Dublin standards. After learning this, we paid closer attention and realized that Mickey was, in fact speaking English.
In the end, we just avoided each other: Mickey because (I think) he felt he couldn’t properly articulate his words; us because we felt that, somehow, we should be able to understand this kind old man but were never able to.
We always smiled, waved and nodded like crazy at each other, though. In our own ways we were good neighbors.
I’ve told this story before – forgive me for the repeat. But, it’s one of my favorite memories and seems appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day.
For Presto Pasta Nights, started by Ruth, of Once Upon a Feast, and hosted this week by Aqua of Served with Love.
Aqua will have the round-up of all the gorgeous pasta dishes on Friday.
Stir-fries cook quickly and are very flexible when it comes to
ingredients. I always try for a mix of colors, textures and flavors… Based on what’s at the market and what’s in the fridge.
Savoy cabbage works in place of the more traditional bok choy.
Ground Beef and Savoy Cabbage Lo Mein
12oz (350gr) ground beef (mince)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1/2 head savoy cabbage (8oz, 250gr)
1 medium carrot
3.5oz (100gr) spaghetti – about 1 1/4″ (3cm) diameter
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup (8oz, 240ml) beef stock
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs sherry
1 tbs cornstarch (Maizena)
Cook pasta according to package instructions.
While pasta cooks: Thinly slice onion. Mince garlic. Mince ginger (peel first). Cut carrot into matchsticks. Remove dark green outer leaves from cabbage. Cut off a thick slice, avoiding the core. Lay flat, cut into 3 or 4 wedges, then thinly slice the wedges
Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot to skillet; stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, cabbage and stir-fry another 3 minutes. Remove vegetables from skillet and set aside. Add beef, and fry, breaking it up as it browns. Return vegetables to pan. Add beef stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together sherry, soy sauce and cornstarch. Uncover skillet and stir in cornstarch mixture until thickened.
When pasta is done, drain and add to skillet. Toss to combine, tongs work best, or two forks. Serve. (If spaghetti doesn’t fit into pan, put it into a large bowl and pour beef and vegetables on top.) Add more soy sauce if desired, according to taste.
Happy St. Paddy’s Day!