In this entry I shall re-introduce you to a Northern Ireland institution I have mentioned before and introduce you to one I have not yet spoken of in this travelogue although it will be familiar to anyone who has visited the country.
I woke on Wednesday 13th June after another good sleep which is somewhat of a blessing for me given my usual sleep problems. I don’t know if it is the country air or something else but I really am sleeping well here. I was preparing breakfast for my Father and turned on the TV just in time to catch the weather forecast and that came as a bit of a shock.
I do hope you have read the earlier reports from this journey where I described the small heatwave we had enjoyed and where I managed to get sunburnt. Yes, I know, sunburnt in Northern Ireland in June. I swear it is true as I have seen myself in the mirror which is a sight I would not wish to inflict on anyone else by way of photographic evidence here so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Would there be more sun on the way? No chance, and instead we were given a storm warning for that night for a weather system coming in from the Atlantic overnight and which Met Eireann (the Irish meteorological body) had named Hector, presumably for the hero of myth rather than the animated canine character of 1960’s children’s TV.
That was the re-introduction to the Northern Irish institution that is the weather of which it is truly said, “If you don’t like it, wait fifteen minutes” and so now on to the other institution I mentioned at the top of this piece. I shall begin by skipping back to the little tease I left you with at the end of the last entry and which I do hope you have read where I mentioned that I had found something in my little village supermarket that I have never seen on sale in Northern Ireland. Come to that I have never seen it on sale outside Scotland where it is known as slice, Lorne sausage or square sausage and here it was packaged as the latter.
Square sausage is a cornerstone of Scottish breakfasts, so what is it? It is nothing more than that which the name suggests, it is beef sausage meat which is seasoned and lightly spiced and then cut into slices that are really more rectangular than sausage but I suppose square is easier to say. OK, it also contains such delicious ingredients as Thiomin, Disodium Diphosphate and Sodium Tripolyphosphate which are all perfectly safe. I hope.
Not only was this the first time I had seen it on sale here, I was amazed to see that it was actually manufactured in Northern Ireland by Hull’s of Ballymena, which is in Northern Ireland. The packaging says “New” and I suspect they are onto a winner. The whole situation got even better as it was on special offer at £1 for four slices which is half price. Needless to say I bought some. OK, I bought a lot as I knew it would not last long in my kitchen. I think the young girl on the checkout thought I had gone mad.
Whilst I had eaten this delicacy as part of many a hearty Scottish breakfast I knew it would fit beautifully into the other institution I mentioned which is the world-famous Ulster Fry. For those of you unfortunate enough not to have sampled this culinary masterpiece, I shall provide a recipe.
1. Pick a selection from the following. Egg, sausage, bacon, square sausage (as of just recently), black pudding, white pudding, soda bread, wheaten bread, potato bread, white loaf bread, mushrooms, baked beans, tomato. In cases of extreme hunger pick one of everything or as the ultimate hangover cure pick one of everything and serve with a pint of Guinness.
2. Fry everything in oil except the beans and mushrooms (heat in pots) and the tomato (half and grill). If you want to be very traditional about it use lard instead of oil.
Obviously this is the type of meal that give cardiologists “funny little moments” but this is the genuine article. I dread to think what the calorie count is for a decent sized Ulster fry but it is well into four figures. Here is an example. Just the two slices of square sausage you see in some of these images provide me with 34% of my recommended daily fat intake and over half my saturates intake and that is only the raw contents before I start frying it! I have heard this described as a heart attack on a plate which is probably true but it doesn’t half taste great. I know you could grill the various sausage, bacon and even the puddings but that would be classed as heresy where I come from. HP sauce is the condiment of choice although a few people prefer tomato ketchup which also works.
That then is the calorific joy that is the Ulster Fry and it is quite feasible in the UK with most of the big supermarkets carrying soda and potato bread. Wheaten is a little harder to find but not impossible. White pudding is also quite difficult to source but is really worth the effort especially if you are one of those people who is uneasy at the concept of blood type sausage / pudding. If I have any readers outside the UK then I think you may struggle a bit so my only advice is to save your pennies, cents, baht, pesos or whatever and come to Northern Ireland for the genuine article.
Apart from several hours spent digesting the gargantuan brunch (which is pretty small by local standards) and reading nothing much happened during the day and so that evening I secured anything that might possibly blow away and retired to bed to await the hurricane.
If you want to know whether or not we still had a roof the next morning then stay tuned and spread the word.