Friday, July 9, 2010

My Heritage

I often wonder how I can have so few "traditions" that have been passed down from my family.  My daughter is sure that we make them up and revise our holidays to fit our immediate situation.  Very true!  There's never been a Christmas that I can honestly say has been carried over from year to year--not since marriage!  Before that, we both have Christmas' that are memorable because they were always the same.
But that's for the Christmas blog.
One thing I do from my past, which was a very "any" day event, is make "fadge". Not holiday related, this is a working man's bread in the Northern Irish tradition. My grandmother would make it as a treat for me, but usually because we were out of fresh bread.  (I never remember her baking bread. "Wonder Bread" was stocked weekly from the A and P.)  
Here's a little background of my grandmother's life in the 1950's:
She was a farmer's wife, lived rather isolated due to never driving, arrived in Buffalo as a teenager by way of a boat from Ireland with her mother, and married a man who had immigrated to the States a few years before her (at the turn of the 20th century or about 100 years ago). After many false starts at providing for his family, they eventually settled into farming in Western New York where her life revolved around feeding hungry men.
Enter me as an only grandchild, with a working mother, and my grandmother became my main caregiver. The best example of Irish heritage that I carry on today (see my daughter rolling her eyes...) is announcing, "Today I'm making "fadge"."
The word "fadge" must be a very local name for "Potato Farl" or potato bread, since I have never seen it in print, nor heard anyone else mention it.  I was, however, delighted to find it on my trip to Ireland a few years ago. I felt indicated and relieved that I hadn't made it all up in my childhood head.  It was served with every breakfast on that trip and found packaged ready-made in the grocery stores!  There was certainly an element of pride which I pointed out daily to my daughter. :-)
And here's the recipe:
Boiled potatoes, flour, and salt. Mix and fry.
And here's the process:

Boil potatoes. Do NOT use "Slap Ya Mama" (somehow, snuck into the picture... my grandmother is flapping her angel wings in disgust!)
Order from a catalog or pull out a ricer which gets used twice a year only for this event.
Press the boiled potatoes through the ricer.  Do NOT confuse this with "mashing" potatoes. (I apologize, but this is a rather "white" process which doesn't photograph well.)
The ingredients: Riced potatoes, salt, and flour. Notice: No measuring!
 Mix the three ingredients until they hold together as a dough.
This is half the dough, not really doughy, but it holds together enough to roll out and cut into pieces.  (Store bought are in neat squares, but I (per my grandma) make them in all sorts of shapes.)
I love this recipe-- no measuring, all free form, and I always tell everyone that it's perfect!)
Fry in hot butter and/or bacon grease, on a skillet or in a pan, until golden.
Turn, and since there isn't as much "grease" the other side will be drier and darker brown (even black, if you are knitting at the same time).
Some of them never make it to a plate... best enjoyed immediately.
The traditional plating would be with eggs and bacon, or as a side dish.  If you make lots, they can be frozen and popped in the toaster on demand.
Find someone with an Irish grandmother and share!
If anyone has a suggestion for a substitute "ricer", I'd like to hear about it. It seems to be the biggest deterrent to the process.  Pushing it through a sieve is real work!  Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. That looks absolutely heavenly! I always think folks who are only a generation or two removed from their ethnic heritage are so lucky. My husband has things from his Hungarian grandparents (he's 2nd generation on both sides), and the recipes are incredible. I am the proverbial "Northern European Stew" with only the knowledge that we've been here since dirt was invented to fall back on.


Go ahead! Tell me what's on your mind.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...