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Farmer’s Markets Dublin


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When I first moved to Ireland just over three years ago, I was a wide-eyed American girl with sense of adventure and an open mind…or so I thought. After the initial excitement of living in a new country wore off, I started to realise that living in Ireland meant I would be getting a lot of practice working on something I wasn’t so good at: Patience.

I recall the first time I strolled down to the post office during lunch, just to find out many post offices are closed during the 1-2 PM lunch break. Seriously? How does this make any sense? Most people use their weekday lunch time to run errands, like go to the bank, drop off the dry cleaning and GO TO THE POST OFFICE. GROAN!

Particularly when I lived in Drogheda, a trip to the grocery store could take twice as long as planned thanks to the chatterboxes that work the cash registers. Oh Mary, you’re looking well! What are ye up to? Aw that’s a lovely restaurant, we love it. Make sure to get the steak and….oh sure treat yourself, you deserve it! This could go on for minutes…tens of minutes. Never mind there’s a half-dozen of us in line behind Mary, waiting to get back to work or back to the car that’s sitting in the pay-by-the-hour car park.

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Though I would never refer to myself as a health nut, both Mountaineering Man and I generally prefer clean foods – ones that are not from a tin can or that have a list of hard-to-pronounce ingredients that are likely produced in a lab somewhere.

Instead of sliced, pre-packaged sandwich meat, we bake free range, organic chicken breasts for sambos. Rather than buying bottles of salad dressing, I make my own. We buy our bread from bakers we know don’t use additives to speed up the rising or baking process. We frequently make veggie tacos using real corn tortillas and fresh guacamole over the more traditional, meat-based version.

So I was thrilled to discover Nobó, a new Irish line of dairy-free, all-natural frozen treats. It’s basically ice cream, without the cream and additives (many ice cream companies add gums to keep their frozen treats easy to scoop and not rock-solid).

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Mad PostmanSometimes the lack of customer service and creative thinking in the movement (yes, I consider it a movement – and I’m leading it, ha!) really drives me crazy. I know, I’ve written about this before – and I will probably write about it again!

A perfect example of this came in the form of a very grumpy postal delivery man who came to my office yesterday with a package. He requested I pay 84 euro in customs and VAT charges or else he would not release the package to me. The conversation went like this:

Me: There is one dress in the box and it’s five years old – how do you justify charging me VAT and customs on it?

Him: I dunno. But you have to pay else I can’t give you the box.

Me: OK, who can I speak to?

Him: Customs.

Me: Do you have a contact number?

Him: No.

Me: Ok fine, I’ll deal with it later. Do you take Visa or Laser cards?

Him: No.

Me: OK, can you wait five minutes so I can run to the ATM down the road?

Him: No.

Me: You can’t wait FIVE minutes???

Him: No.

Me: Congratulations, you’ve officially just become the most useless f***ing person on the planet!

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Smoked Mackerel Fishcakes 2

The other day as I was chatting away with a fewvendors at the Honest 2 Goodness farmers market, I realised that somewhere between arriving in Ireland on March 4th, 2010 and last Saturday, I’d managed to create a life here.

When I first landed, I had a few friends I knew from years ago but as they all lived in a different area it was common for me to walk around town (Drogheda, which was my first home here) and not know a single face. I’d go grocery shopping, sit and read at a café for hours, stroll around the streets without seeing a single person I knew. I stumbled my way through getting to know the one-way streets and the opening hours of the post office and Tesco and which roads allowed free parking and which ones didn’t.

Ocean Water

People say you either sink or swim, but for the first several months I was doggy paddling rather soppily – and doing a pretty good job at staying afloat. I couldn’t quite open my eyes underwater and sometimes I’d bump my head into a wall, but I kept kicking. After meeting Mountaineering Man and dating for several months, I made the move to Dublin and started that process again – the getting-to-know-you part – finding my way around the city, making new friends and creating a home. And I kept on paddling.

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Communion

Father Tom Tehan (with the beard) of Co. Meath at our First Communion; I think that’s me raising my candle and my sister in the back row (we’re identical twins and even I get confused!).

People here always ask me if I have any Irish blood coursing through my veins, and I always replied that I do not. I’m half-Japanese, part German, perhaps a bit Czech and maybe even a little Yugoslavian. But Irish, no – at least that’s what I thought.

And then several weeks ago my dad emailed to tell me that he was looking through our ancestry files and was reminded that his great grandmother (which would be my great, great grandmother) was one Hanora N. McDonough born in January 1872 in…County Mayo, Ireland!? She immigrated to the United States and married Bernard Henry Cook on the 17th of September 1890. So there you go, I’m a bit Irish after all.

Relatives aside, my family has some long-standing Irish connections that I either didn’t know about until recently or just forgot about. Growing up in Japan, we had a very close family friend in the form of an Irish priest: Father Tom Tehan, who hails from County Meath of all places. My parents met him when we lived in Japan, and he has remained close to us over the years; he even flew out to Arkansas to give my sister and me our First Communion. Shortly after I moved here to Ireland, I met with Father Tom for a cup of tea and a chat when he was here for a short visit with his siblings.

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Stuffed Shrooms

Recently I renewed my commitment to eat healthier; not necessarily in the caloric sense, but in that I would try to shop locally and eat as much wholesome foods as possible. The less packaged food, the better.

Due to our busy work schedules, I’d gotten quite lazy of late and found myself relying solely on Tesco deliveries for our groceries. Despite the fact that something was almost always wrong in the order – rotten onions, missing items, food with expired “Sell By” dates – it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I finally decided take back control of my weekly food shop.

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The “ah-ha” moment came one evening when I was making sandwiches for Mountaineering Man to take to work the next day. As I ripped open yet another package of sliced chicken sandwich meat, I took a good look at it and realized how disgusting it was. Pinkish, shiny, not a trace of texture and clearly plugged up with salt water and gelatin, it was not nourishment – it was manufactured, God-knows-where-it-came-from processed foodstuffs.

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