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A Different View

Convenience combinations provide food for thought

Dave O'Connell

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Music on the Prom: a saxophone player entertains on Salthill Prom during the sunny weather. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Before we all lost the run of ourselves with all this fusion dining and crossover cuisine, the height of sophistication in any kitchen was the Vesta curry, a boil-in-the-bag proposition that relied less on actual meat and more on monosodium glutamate for its unique flavouring.

This truly was the cutting edge of cooking – a smorgasbord of spices from the Far East, by way of the Bachelors factory in Cabra.

And best of all any eejit could master this new art – open two sealed plastic bags, empty contents into saucepan full of boiling water and leave to either simmer or explode.

Better still, with the advent of new technology these Vesta curries became the mainstay of the microwave home – now you just had to pierce said bags and make sure to open with the aid of a dish cloth in case you soldered the hand off yourself from the heat.

The rice had a sort of stodgy feel to it – like an oil leak on a flock of seagulls – and the curry contained things that defied identification. But the taste – that heady mix of herbs and spices was so far ahead of what we were used to that none of that really mattered.

Of course they still make Vesta curries – largely for the sophisticated palate of our friends across the water – and undoubtedly the formula has evolved over time into something more nutritious and sophisticated to suit the modern palate.

But back then, the ready-made meal was in its infancy as was the taste of the Orient, and convenience food was bread with jam or ham on it.

The only time anyone mentioned fusion was with a ‘con’ in front of it and the Far East was a magazine from the missions that had a column in pigeon English was Pudsy Ryan.

Then came another milestone in the story of Irish food – the arrival of 4F pub grub, a phenomenon which removed Tayto as the only thing you could eat in an Irish bar.

And again it was so simple that it was spellbinding.

All you needed was a microwave and a decent-sized fridge. Into this fridge you put dozens of small plastic bags containing a choice of burger, steak and kidney pie or sausage roll.

The beauty of these burgers was that you didn’t have to waste time chopping lettuce or dicing onions – this burger was self contained between two halves of a bap; you simply pierced the bag and put it into the microwave to nuke it within an inch of extinction.

The hungry customer was only thrilled with this frazzled patty but you had to be very careful not to burn the entire roof off your mouth – because these things came out of the microwave at temperatures not seen outside of the earth’s core.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

How will we acclimatise as we ease out of Covid?

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Back in the world before Covid, a mention of Corona either brought to mind a beer or a rock band – but, as we ease our way out of dire straits (another rock band, as luck would have it), we might require a different kind of acclimatisation.

Because what will the evening be like when no more deaths are flashed up as a statistic on the Six-One News?

Who will the world turn to if we have no more Fergal or George or Zara giving out the daily update in a funereal tone?

What will happen to all the people who used to go to the Department of Health press conference at tea-time in the same way the rest of us once headed for the pub?

Like Pavlov’s Dog, we’ve come to expect an evening illness update, taking consolation in it being two less than yesterday or taking fright if it’s two more.

Nobody told us who these poor people were, unless the local paper carried a tribute a week later – for the number crunchers and bean counters and prophets of doom, they were today’s statistics, to be flashed up for a few seconds every night.

And we took these figures as we got them, never questioning if a person died from Covid or with Covid; if they were described as having ‘underlying conditions’, we seemed to accept that as a very broad church.

We listened intently as Fergal or George or Zara told us what the mean age was, breathing a small sigh of relief if it remained a good distance into the future from our own age now.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Home ownership should be a prerogative – not a pipedream

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Half of our 18 to 34-year-olds fear they won’t be able to buy a home in next ten years, according to a new survey. That’s not the shock – it’s the fact that half of them think they actually will.

Because the truth is that owning your own home hasn’t been as much of a pipedream since the days of feudal landlords; indeed many of them will find it a job and a half to even come up with the rent.

And that’s a sign of just how critical our housing crisis has become in the space of a single generation.

We thought that things were bad in the eighties when unemployment levels were way ahead of our pre-Covid figures; when the boat and the plane were the best 0or maybe only – chance for many to secure a job far from home.

But for those who were working, owning a home wasn’t a farfetched concept at all, because there were plenty of starter homes being built and the cost of them still bore some relation to your income.

There was a time before that, when the bank had a simple equation to decide the size of the mortgage they’d give you. It was two and a half times the combined salary for those buying the house – in other words, yours alone if you were a sole purchaser, or double that if it was yourself and your partner.

On top of that, there was no point turning up in the first place unless you had a ten per cent deposit – so it was a straight-forward calculation to find out what you could afford. And house prices, for the most part, kept within that equation.

Of course there were always homes you coveted and couldn’t afford, but you could still buy a roof over your head for a price that only took 20 years to pay back.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Giving it all away can bring you the greatest wealth of all

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It must be the nicest thing that anyone could say about a friend on their passing, and the novelist Jilly Cooper wrote it about the former Sunday Times editor Harold Evans on his death last year.

“Harry died on Thursday at 5am (UK time), his heart perhaps only failing because he gave so much of it away.”

Because when all is said and done, your list of achievements – academic, sporting or stellar career – should pale into insignificance beside the way you treated your family, friends and colleagues.

We too often judge a person’s success or failure by the jobs they’ve held, the money they’ve made, the titles they hold – when the truth is none of that should determine your achievements as a person.

Even billionaires can grow to realise that eventually; just look at Bill and Melinda Gates – although recent events might make this a different picture in the future.

The former Apple golden couple have given close to $50 billion to charitable causes, including the eponymously named Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, since 1994.

In 2019 alone, the couple donated $589 million to charity, making them the seventh most philanthropic people that year. Whether they now give separately or collectively might be the question – but it seems most unlikely that they won’t give at all.

They’re alone in this world of billionaire philanthropists either; Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and one of the richest people in the world, has pledged $100m in prize money for technology that would best capture planet-heating carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

And Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder who tops the global rich list, has vowed to give out $10bn to worthy climate initiatives.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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