Today is the 16th of June, otherwise known as Bloomsday. It is the day on which James Joyce’s profoundly influential book, Ulysses is based. Ulysses is the story of Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus and their movements through Dublin city over the course of one day and it is widely regarded as the greatest novel of the twentieth century. I think we could all learn something from Mr. Joyce, who eschewed conventional English grammar and chose to focus on the rhythm and musicality of the written word instead. The result was a truly unique, literary masterpiece. Why am I mentioning this in a food blog you ask? Perhaps it’s because cooking is a creative process that can often involve using your instincts rather than conventional wisdom. Perhaps it’s because the descriptions of food in Ulysses are so vivid, so memorable and because it features some more unusual dishes by modern day standards.
“Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices fried with crust crumbs fried hencods roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine”.
Now the thoughts of tucking into a platter of offal might not appeal to all of us but we must consider the fact that historically it was far more commonplace to eat all of an animal. When you think about it, it has sacrificed it’s life for our dining pleasure so this surely can’t be a bad thing. My own experience with cooking offal is limited, I must confess. I did buy tripe once out of morbid curiosity. I slow cooked it for a couple of hours before coating it in breadcrumbs and frying it. I wasn’t crazy about it, I’ll be completely honest but my nephew (who was 7 years old at the time and the most picky of eaters), ate every bit of it. The point is, how do we know we don’t like something if we won’t even try it?
Joyce ‘s protagonist also has a fondness for Gorgonzola, which I adore. He refers to”the feety savour of green cheese”, emphasising it’s inhererent pungency. Leopold enjoys it in a sandwich with a crunchy salad washed down nicely with a glass of burgundy. So today, I shall dine on a gloriously smelly Gorgonzola toasty, made with brown soda bread and a salad of rocket, pears and walnuts and I will toast to the literary genius of the great James Joyce.
Happy Bloomsday one and all xxx