Have You Had the Sticky Rice? A Lesson in Irish Cooking.

soda bread

Lucky me…..I got a coveted spot in the Irish cooking class put on by some kind folks at the US embassy. This means I get to visit the house of the Charge de Affairs of Dublin as our cooking class is being held at his residence. Class starts at 930 am sharp, no worries we left the house at nine and had to go to Tesco first, because we are always out of milk. Why would my spouse use a GPS (sat nav to the Irish), after all, he knew where the road was that the house was on? The larger picture in this scenario was that he did not know where said house was located on said road. Of course, my husband and kids made me 15 minutes late and I felt utterly stupid walking into the class with everyone else awaiting my arrival. Might I mention the DCM’s house is a very beautiful, stately looking white home with a grand red door and its own private gate. I must say the decor was “classic” and by this I mean I felt like I was at Downton Abbey. The wife of the DCM was our hostess and proved quite a delightful lady, although I ‘m sure she secretly cursed my late arrival. 

The one thing I didn’t expect was an Asian chef to teach me how to make Irish food, but who am I to judge…..

I cannot not make bread or pastry of any kind, so I was looking forward to a lesson in Irish soda bread. There were seven ladies including myself, which meant I was the odd man out, since I didn’t really know any of the other ladies and they were all friends. Oh well, double recipe for me! 

I generally speak first and think later which makes for a good story in this case. All seven of us were crowded around bowls, measuring cups, and dry ingredients and we begin making our bread. Trying to make the best of the limited measuring tools I took a dry measuring cup and used it for my buttermilk. I’m pretty sure the fine ladies next to me nearly had an aneurysm. But…you….can’t….use….DRY….cups…..for….wet…..to which I replied, “A cup is a cup is a cup. You can’t put dry into the wet measuring cup, but wet ingredients can go into the dry cups if you need them to.” Anyone who has witnessed my phenomenal banana bread can tell you that my measuring of wet in dry gets the job done. Oops, have I offended thine ladies? 

Next up is the sticky toffee pudding which isn’t Irish but it was the chosen dessert because it was easy and delicious and British. I guess they figured Britain occupied Ireland for 700 years, so the dessert is kind of Irish after all. All I could think of was the Thai sticky rice that I loved and hadn’t had in quite awhile. I turned to the nice lady next to me, who had been talking of her family’s time spent living in Japan and The Phillipines, and blurted out, “Have you ever had sticky rice? It’s so good, right?” She was silent for a moment before replying, “No, I haven’t, what is it?”. I explained to her its delicious cinnamony goodness much to her disappointment, she didn’t like cinnamon…at all. A few minutes later it dawned on me that I just asked a complete stranger, and the only Asian (besides the chef) in the room if she liked sticky rice. Bahahaha, who’s foot is in their mouth now? The funny thing is, I didn’t even consider either when posing my question, as I was just thinking of my beloved, Thai sticky rice. Welp, that does it for me…..I’ve managed to anger them with my lateness, offend some with my dry measuring of liquid ingredients, and now this kind lady thinks I assumed she likes sticky rice because she’s Asian. Next up…..Guinness Stew. The only thing worth mentioning was the story told by the woman I likely offended with the sticky rice question…..She told us of her time in The Phillipines and how it was so cool because her family got to go to this magical little island one day and there the locals let them hold all kinds of exotic animals. Apparently, some of these animals were endangered and this woman got quite the talkin’ to from her friends when she arrived home and regaled them with the story of her adventure. Sadly, this well educated woman couldn’t quite understand why touching endangered animals was such a faux pas. Despite my sticky rice comment, I couldn’t help but think, who’s the dum dum, now?

Somehow the above story lead one of the lady’s daughter’s to start talking of how she had held snakes, etc while traveling and she would rather hold a rat than deal with a baby. She continued to ramble on about her intolerance of children much to my amusement and the other’s disgust. You see, I enjoy a good show put on by another, even if it is distasteful, to do otherwise is simply boring. I may have mentioned that we were a one kid family that did not realize it until we had a second child. I said I would never ever give either child up and that I loved them both, but simply put….both J and I found that caring for two children was more than we could handle. This brought up some laughter and an admission by a Brit that she was a two kid family and ended up with five, due to a first pregnancy with twins, an unforseeable divorce and the remarrying of a man without children who wanted ONE, as well as a delayed vasectomy of said second husband. Needless, to say a couple women remained silent, their silence speaking of their disdain for any unpleasant talk. 

I rather enjoyed listening to the other ladies talk of their lives in foreign countries while we lunched on the food we had prepared. Sadly, I was to offend once again before my departure…actually it was literally my departure that was the offense. I was the only one who didn’t drive to the course and as such had my husband pick my up. Yep, we were the only commoners with one vehicle in our family. He arrived on time, God bless, at 1230, but because of someone’s late arrival the course was running 15 minutes behind. I wolfed down my sticky toffee pudding and awkwardly told the group that my husband was here. Let me mention that he had been here for ten minutes already with two small children in the car. I apologized for leaving early but felt that leaving my husband any longer in the car would have been cruel and unusual punishment. The hostess graciously had my Irish Soda bread and dessert I made wrapped and ready for me to take. My husband’s punctuality had cost us big time….I had made and was told to keep two desserts but only got one because I had to leave early. This is one of the few times when being early does not work in your favor. 
Oh well, at least I had a delicious British dessert to take home and enjoy and a brick in a bag (remember my soda bread?). Turns out even with a class I still suck at making bread; I guess that’s a good thing since its chock full of wheat. Hmmmmm maybe next time I will keep the comments to myself and the bread making up to someone else.

Until next time…..

H.

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