Cake wrapped

The other day I overheard someone say, “Ugh, Grafton Street is so full of chuggers!”


For a few minutes I pondered what a chugger could be. Someone who drinks liquids very quickly? A clever word for a chubby bugger? Wrong on both counts. A chugger is a “charity mugger,” said my Irish friend. Of course that explanation opened up a whole new world of questions. A charity mugger? Is this someone who robs people and then gives the stolen goods to the poor?

Wrong again. A charity mugger is a student or adult volunteer who aggressively asks you to sign their petition for the whales/orphans/PETA/Greenpeace/etc. You know, the seemingly well-meaning volunteer who, when you politely decline his invitation to sign whatever’s on his clipboard continues to chase you down the street, loudly spouting off all the reasons why you just NEED TO SIGN THE PETITION!


After two-plus years of living in Ireland, there is still so much lingo to learn. I only recently discovered what O.A.P. stands for, which is something I’ve heard a lot but had absolutely no clue of the meaning. The revelation was both hilarious and surprising: Old Age Pensioner. Naturally I thought it was used as an insult to the elderly, but it’s an actual, widely-used, official term. If you look on Wikipedia, the exact definition is “A person who has retired, and now collects a pension.” I think in the United States, if you referred to retirees as “old,” they’d be insulted.

I’m also always bemused by the quirky quips that my friends use, and I always think, “Only the Irish would say that” when I hear them. Just today a friend of mine posted on Facebook about how she “almost lost the pattern of” herself after running into some famous footballers. I’m not quite sure what that means, but it’s incredibly charming. Another friend recently tweeted, “Fella on the flight over big Johnny Depp wannabe, you should have seen the hack of him.” Hm…does hack mean hair? Not sure, but I found it entertaining.

Another comical Irish-y verbal habit: Adding the word “bag” or “bob” to the second half of an already-existing word to make it more…effective. When my friend’s husband is annoying her, she refers to him as her “husbag.” And I’ve heard numerous people here refer to people who are legendary as “ledgebags.” Today I heard the word holibobs, which is Irish-charming-funny-speak for holidays (as in a vacation, not Christmas or Thanksgiving – which of course we do not have here in Ireland seeing that it’s an American holiday!).

And then there’s taking the last letter off of a word to make it…er, not sure what the point is, but people here do it. When someone is embarrassed, they might “go scarle,” meaning they’ve turned scarlet (as in red from embarrassment). Apparently it’s a real Dublin thing to take the “t” off that one, which is kind of sweet.

Fig Cake

Cheeky Fig Cake

The word cheeky didn’t come into my vocabulary until after I lived in Ireland for a few months, and now I find myself using it regularly. But instead of using it as an insult (cheeky bastard being a popular one) I tend to use it more like “…sneaking off with my friends for a cheeky glass of wine.” It’s a bit naughty, a bit bold (another Irish-y term) but heck; I’m admitting it so it’s OK! Recently I made a little fig cake for my friend Claire, who recently gave birth to her first child. Claire is the picture of health: An avid fitness freak and marathon runner, the woman climbed Kilimanjaro for her honeymoon! So the fact that this cake contains a decent amount of butter and sugar (and a touch of whiskey!) makes it a bit cheeky, especially for a health nut like Claire!

70 grams almond meal

70 grams of regular flour

½ teaspoon of sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

110 grams of unsalted butter (at room temp)

100 grams of dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon whiskey

2 eggs (at room temp)

8-10 dried figs, cut into slices

Preheat your oven to 180C and butter and flour an 8 or 9-inch cake pan. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the almond meal, flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar using an electric mixer (or stand mixer) until light and fluffy. Keeping the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add in the whiskey and mix well. Now slowly add in the dry mixture in three batches, mixing at the lowest speed on your mixer.

Spoon the batter (it will be thick) into your cake pan, and top with the sliced figs. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Enjoy!