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UCC International Pre-Departure Blog Series: ICCC Week Three

We’ve made it so far, everyone. This is the Irish Culture Crash Course, week three.

We’ll call it “Dessert & a Movie,” for reasons to be revealed in time. First up, cuisine.

Keeping with my own trend, I used one of Donal Skehan’s recipes. This time, I chose something very summery using simple ingredients and fresh berries: Blackberry Amber. I did extensive research about the role of blackberries in Ireland* and didn’t turn up anything in particular. I am, however, noticing a trend with Irish cuisine. Everything is very simple and very delicious; most recipes use few but fresh ingredients.

This was no exception! There were only three steps.

1) Cook berries with sugar and a bit of water until soft, and put into pie pan.

Pic 1

Sorry the spoon looks like a murder weapon. Nobody told me blackberries could get this red. I’ve now permanently stained a 20-year-old wooden spoon a faint rosy pink.

2) Combine egg yolk and milk and soak sponge cake in the mixture and place on top of berries. Cook until golden.

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(or in my case, cheat using ladyfinger cookies)

3) Whip up egg white, add sugar, BAM you’ve got meringue. Place on top of golden sponge cake and cook some more until – you guessed it – golden brown.

Pic 2

It couldn’t be simpler. Nothing could go wrong. Although my sister did burn water once, so I suppose anything is possible.

It was absolutely delicious! Super light and fluffy and yet filling at the same time.

Pic 3

*Searched on Google “are berries popular in Irish food??”

If crying into blackberry meringue pie is what you’re into, please proceed.

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My Left Foot was so good, yet so sad.

Based on the semi-fictional, autobiographical account of Christy Brown, this film tells the story of a man born with cerebral palsy who can only fully control his left foot. Despite this huge setback in life and the challenges it brings, he grows to become a successful writer and artist.

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Following a trend I’ve noticed in most of the Irish films I’ve watched, family was a core idea in this movie. Christy’s mother is the epitome of a strong woman. Raising thirteen children in a tiny home with little income and a bit of a deadbeat husband, she still managed to keep her family afloat and simultaneously helped Christy to manage his disorder. “She refused to accept this truth, the inevitable truth as it then seemed that I was beyond cure, beyond saving, even beyond hope,” wrote Christy.

Doing a bit of further research, I realized the fairytale ending to this man’s difficult life was a farce. I won’t spoil the movie, but if you wish to learn more after your own viewing, read further here.

A beautiful film, well acted and well made.

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Now, the disappointment.

This week’s book was The Visitors by Patrick O’Keefe. I got about 30 pages in and realized I couldn’t continue reading. I promise I’m not a quitter; I just could not go on.

It may be that I get more excited by mysteries and fantasies and plots as far detached from my own life as possible, and this plot was too… realistic?

I’ll let you make up your own mind about it, but unfortunately, I wasn’t hooked.

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Here are next week’s picks:

Film

I’m gonna cheat on this one. First, I’m watching a TV series. And it’s one I’ve already seen. But it was so good and I’ve already forgotten most of the plot (sort of), so it’s ok, right? I can binge this in a day, easy.

I’ll be watching The Fall, a series set in Northern Ireland, produced by the BBC, my favorite production company ever. What could be better?

Literature

Room

Room by Emma Donoghue. It sounds a bit creepy but fascinating nonetheless.

Cuisine

Chowder

I feel like I can’t get an idea for Irish cuisine without cooking some sort of soup, stew or chowder. So this week, I’m trying out Donal Skehan’s Howth Head Seafood Chowder. My family often attempts pescatarianism, so perhaps this will be a breakthrough…

Thanks for keeping up with me!

-Elena

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