Saturday, June 7, 2014


I’ve been reading what Strabo (that’s him above) had to say about Ireland in his Geographica in the first century AD.

“Concerning this island I have nothing certain to tell, except that its inhabitants are more savage than the Britons, since they are man-eaters as well as heavy eaters, and since, further, they count it an honourable thing, when their fathers die, to devour them, and openly to have intercourse, not only with the other women, but also with their mothers and sisters; but I am saying this only with the understanding that I have no trustworthy witnesses for it; and yet, as for the matter of man-eating, that is said to be a custom of the Scythians also, and, in cases of necessity forced by sieges, the Celti, the Iberians, and several other peoples are said to have practised it.”
         Certain scholars have deduced that Strabo actually meant to say that the Irish were “herb eaters” rather than “heavy eaters,” so they basically ate herbs and humans, which is definitely a balanced diet of a sort.  I can't swear that all the actresses in the movie below were actually Irish, but surely one or two of them must have been.

I was thinking about the Old Sod because in San Diego I went back to The Field, an authentic enough Irish pub that does a staggeringly great breakfast.  In the past I’ve had their Boxty, but this time I went for the “Irish Breakfast – Chefs Special!” consisting of “Two eggs, Imported Irish bacon, sausage, black and white pudding, and Heinz baked beans”  It looked like this:

         The clear implication is that the bacon was imported but the black and white puddings were not.  Now, the importation of meat products into the United States is a matter that has long puzzled me – so I went to the U.S Customs and Border Protection website and found a section titledBringing meat, poultry or pork/swine products into the U.S.”
In fact they do give a fairly clear explanation.  Essentially the U.S. lives in fear OF Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), Exotic Newcastle Disease (END), and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).  This is not an unreasonable fear.  So if a country is known to have any of those things, then the meat ain’t coming in. 
But that dIdn’t explain the presence of imported bacon on the plate in The Field, until I got to this section titled “The short and sweet answer for many popular products (from countries other than those mentioned on the APHIS site)”
Is sausage allowed in?  “No.”
How about cured bacon? “Unless it is from Canada or two specifically approved producers allowed to sell certified pork products in duty free shops in Dublin and Shannon Airports, no.”
So – my bacon was definitely, genuinely Irish, but it was apparently bought in an airport.  I guess that’s authentic, right?

Above is a picture of Gene Kelly shopping in the Shannon Airport duty free shop, though I can’t see any bacon in that display.  

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