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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Readers recount favorite Irish fare

Maybe it was the first time you made syllabub or soda bread, boxty or barmbrack.

Or, perhaps your fondest Irish food memory is of a particular dish at a pub in Spokane or, better yet, Dublin.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, The Spokesman-Review Food section asked readers to share their favorite Irish culinary experience.

At stake: A half-dozen Irish-themed cookbooks.

Here are the 250-word essays from three of the six cookbook winners. Find the rest at the Too Many Cooks blog at too-many-cooks.

Farl thee well

I lived in Ireland for a year back in 1970 and have many wonderful food memories: fresh Dublin Bay prawns, sweet and moist Irish brown bread, comforting colcannon.

But my favorite food of all was Irish potato farls.

These are made from leftover mashed potatoes. A few other ingredients are added, then the mixture is rolled out like cookie dough, cut into squares and fried (usually in bacon fat) until they’re golden brown on the outside and soft and tender on the inside.

They’re served for breakfast alongside rashers of bacon, eggs and fried tomatoes or baked beans.

I have tried multiple recipes over the years and found one that came close, but maybe what is missing is the soft Irish rain, the lilt of the language and the smell of gorse in bloom.

Still, when I make a batch and cut into one for my breakfast, I’m almost back in the Ireland I remember and love so well.

Dianna Shimizu, Deer Park

A mighty wind – and stew

It was a mighty strong wind that blew and howled as my adopted English family and I caught the ferry from Pembrokeshire, Wales. By the time we reached the dock at Waterford, the seas weren’t the only thing churning. Even the most seasoned travelers were feeling the effects of the roller-coaster ride, but my queasiness was soon superseded by the fact that I WAS IN IRELAND.

As we drove off the ferry and up the lane, I was astounded by the greenest grassy fields I had ever seen. That first magical moment of glimpsing one-story, thatched-roof cottages surrounded by old rock walls will remain etched in my mind forever.

We motored toward Limerick, but pulled over at a beside-the-highway tavern in Kilmeaden, hoping for lunch. The Long Haul was old, picturesque and spotless, and as we walked in we were greeted by the proprietor and a member of his staff. Their welcome made me feel as though I was a long-lost relative.

The “lunch of the day” happened to be traditional Irish stew, served piping hot in wide bowls with enormous hunks of Irish soda bread and butter. I can still smell the savory broth filled with tender chunks of braised lamb, quartered carrots, chopped onions and celery, and honest-to-goodness Irish potatoes. I don’t think there were any seasonings other than salt and pepper, but I’ve never been able to duplicate that flavor. I can’t help but think the atmosphere contributed to the taste.

Violet Holland, Lind

Not ashamed

I was born Rose Eileen Kelly. My father Jim was 100 percent Irish. So we lived, breathed and ate Irish.

Corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie and Irish brown bread, all made by my German mother, were always on the menu. We listened to Bridie Gallagher albums during our evening meal.

But my fondest memory was what my dad said to us six children, every night, as we sat down to the dinner table: “What would you be if you weren’t Irish?”

We would say, “I don’t know,” in unison.

And, with a twinkle in his eye, he would answer, “You’d be ashamed of yourselves!”

Rose Kelly Rhoades, Spokane

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