Deep down, our first love isn’t ‘the drink’ – it’s the sliced pan

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Acurious thing happened me on the Monday evening of last week as the weather warnings of dire things to come started to blow up into a full media gale.

As I passed the Lidl shop on the edge of Tuam, I realised that my beloved canine friend had ran short of nuts, so I popped in at what should have been the quietest of times to purchase a bag to tide me over.

It was just after 7pm – the time when a ‘non-shopper’ like myself – should have been able to amble in an out of the place with scarcely another soul for company apart from the check-out attendants.

How wrong could I have been. The place was jammers. Six or seven trolleys were lined up at each check-out point and right through the store there seemed to be a frenzy about clearing all the shelves of food.

In most of the queues, the trolleys contained a selection of loaves and brown sodas and the penny dropped with me that here in Ireland we do have some kind of illogical fixation that we’ll run out of bread.

We’re all aware of the pre-Christmas shopping panic that grips people in terms of having enough supplies in fridges and deep-freezes to last them until Easter at least . . . and all this in an era when many shops are open again by St. Stephen’s Day.

And now it has reached the stage where some shops and filling stations are opening for a time on Christmas Day, so for the life of me, in a house where there might be only four or five human mouths to feed, I can’t understand the need to have seven loaves, five litres of milk, three boxes of tea-bags and a side of bacon in the fridge.

Maybe, there’s something genetic in all of this, dating back to the famine times when a boiled potato or the stale corner of a cake of break, represented a feast for our ancestors three or four generations back.

If bread had been the staple diet of the Irish population back in the 1840s, the Great Famine probably would never have happened, but with three to four million people depending on the humble spud for survival, starvation was inevitable when the blight struck that crop.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.