Sunday, 11 December 2011

Will the last simple sandwich to leave Ireland please put the ciabatta under the grill?

The tattered remains of the Celtic Tiger are scattered all over Ireland.
It’s easy to spot the empty rotting ghost estates that stand as headstones for the grave of another failed construction boom.
It’s fun to count the traffic jams of ‘00’ and ’99’ reg cars that cram Ireland’s roads.
It’s sad to see the frail, old, young and poor yet again take the hit for the failures of the rich.

Far from these deep and depressing issues, there’s another much more trivial yet still irritating legacy of those boom days occupying Galway City.

From High Street to Spanish Arch it’s nigh on impossible to sit in a pub and order a simple sandwich. Off the beaten tracks there are thankfully pubs that knock out that classic Irish standard, Shoopandsandgidgeforafiver, but from Sea Road to Eyre Square you’re more likely to be offered a menu crawling with gourmet offerings of organic Mongolian yak’s cheese, with sun-dried beetroot husks on a bed of 85 day-aged wolf navels on a wood oven reheated ciabatta, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil sourced exclusively from a 60,000 year-old tree on a long-lost Ionian island.

Yours for only €7.95, served with 6 blue seaweed leaved foraged from the local beach and 2.5 game chips

Very lovely; doubtless scrumptious; but all you really want is a sandwich.
A cup of tea washing down a couple of slices of wholemeal pan filled with ample ham and mustard, cheese and pickle or excuse me, fellow travellers, but egg mayonnaise.
Yes, I am that simple, and if you can’t stand the smell, don’t fly Adley Airways.

Don’t get me wrong. I'm delighted that Irish cuisine has come up in the world. There has been a foodie revolution in Ireland over the last 10 years, and we’re all the better for it. But just as I am so happy still to be able to start my Galway nights out with PJ McDonagh’s excellent cod and mushy peas, so too I fear Irish pubs are flushing out the basic bready baby with the Tiger’s bath water.

Why does a pub have to hand over its entire menu to sumptuous ├╝ber-bites? Why can’t they also offer us plebs a simple cheap lunch on square bread? While we’re on the subject, is it just me that has always had trouble with the term ‘gastropub’?

I’ve never been able to get past the fact that the first two syllables allude less to having a good old chow down, and more to do with the prefix of a series of vile stomach illnesses.

I don’t watch films at a cancercinema or shop in a poxmall, so why would I want to eat in a Gastropub?

Love that. I’m there.


Anonymous said...

Hi Charlie you are 100% right and if you think of it there are still some of the gourmet coffee emporiums charging exorbitant prices for coffee evidently they have not realised that fecking Celtic Tiger is gone.

Charlie Adley said...

Thanks Anon, All those grande frapposhitenose, aye. If they only knew how to roast coffee without burning the beans it'd be a start!

Paz said...

I miss the days when you could go into a bar and ask for a mug of black coffee and get it without having to answer ten more Questions.
But around the country there are great old pubs doing traditional sambos like a great place outside Waterford that still does 'Roast of the Day' sandwich in sliced pan with a bit of gravy, along with regular sambos.

Charlie Adley said...

Out in the country, as you say, the Tiger did not poop all over the menu. Mind you, Galway still has a great simple toasty - at Monroes!

Paz said...

And dont forget that little cafe opposite Cookes with its all day breakfast and lunch for a fiver, served with with real coffee or a pot of tea by a lovely woman that looks like an Irish Mammy. That breakfast has saved the life of many a hungover man after he had been Galwayed.

Charlie Adley said...

I'll have to check it out!