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Connacht Tribune

JP serves up rich mix of history, imagination and recipes

Judy Murphy

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J P McMahon and his sister Edel at Tartare Café + Wine Bar in Dominick Street Lower. It's one of the places where his new book is for sale.

Lifestyle – Chef and restaurant owner JP McMahon has combined his kitchen creativity and passion for history in his latest project The Irish Cook Book. As he launches it on both sides of the Atlantic, he tells JUDY MURPHY how it came about, his initial reluctance to write it and the debt he owes to the mostly female cookery writers who preceded him.

JP McMahon comes through the door of Galway city’s Tartare Café and Wine Bar, apologising for being late. He’s just driven West in hideous weather, following the launch of this new cook book in Dublin the previous night. En route to Galway, he was doing radio interviews to publicise The Irish Cook Book, a magnificent offering from Phaidon Publishers, who are based in New York and London.

He’s busy – but then the self-taught Michelin-star chef, Irish Times food writer and promoter of Irish food always is.

Over an espresso, JP who owns Spanish tapas bar Cava Bodega and the Michelin-star Aniar Restaurant as well as Tartare, explains how this book, which was three years in the making, came about.

The graduate of English and Art History from UCC had always wanted to produce a book with internationally renowned Phaidon, which publishes beautifully designed and illustrated books on art, architecture, science, travel fashion and cookery.

“I’d always loved their art books,” he says.

JP thought he might follow the example of Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson of the two-star Michelin Fäviken restaurant who has published three books with Phaidon, including one based on recipes from Fäviken, He submitted a proposal to Phaidon of recipes from Aniar.

“I never intended doing a 500-recipe book”, he says with a laugh of the end result.

“Phaidon came back and suggested an Irish food cookbook as part of their ‘bible’ series,” he explains.  These include tomes on Chinese, Spanish, Mexican and Japanese food as well as its Sliver Spoon Italian series, all beautifully produced.

Their latest is JP’s book which gives a new insight into Irish food history and includes an eclectic range of recipes. Soda-bread; smoked eel porridge; venison and barley stew; even the humble crisp sandwich – they’re all here.

However, JP was initially unsure about the Phaidon proposal.

“I didn’t know if Ireland needed another cookbook because there are so many of them.”

He cites cooks and writers as Maura Laverty, Monica Sheridan. Theodora FitzGibbon and Myrtle Allen, all of whom championed Irish food and wrote about it extensively, as being among his heroes. And, initially, he felt their work had fulfilled that brief.

But having been to the forefront of Irish cuisine for the past decade, mostly through Aniar, he also recognised that a lot had happened in that time and that a new book might give a fresh context to our food history. So, The Irish Cook Book was born.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Limited go-ahead for marts

Francis Farragher

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Marts: Individual sales to be allowed.

MART managers and staff across the county are busy this week preparing operating protocols for approval by the Dept. of Agriculture that will allow for the limited sale of livestock during the current COVID-19 emergency.

On Tuesday, the Dept. of Agriculture confirmed that they would be allowing marts to handle livestock sales in a limited way – marts will liaise with buyers and sellers; arrange for the weighing of the animals; and process payments.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, said that the Dept. had issued guidance to marts for ‘a very limited range of essential services’ that would not require people to assemble: the transactions would include calf sales, the weighing of livestock, and an online or brokerage service.

Ray Doyle of ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) this week thanked the Government for their announcement, adding that ‘it was reasonable’ for a form of trading to continue to alleviate the current economic burden on farmers.

He pointed out that only mart staff would handle the animals; the buyer and seller would not have contact with each other; each could observe the weighing data; the buyer could view the animals from a distance; the sale would be completed electronically; no visitors or members of the public would be admitted; full sanitisation protocols would be observed; with the sale to be completed electronically.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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Connacht Tribune

Self-isolation success staves off Covid-19 surge – for now

Dara Bradley

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Anaesthetic Registrar Dr Robbie Sparks with Clinical Facilitator Claire Lavelle simulating an intubation of a patient with COVID-19 in the ICU at UHG. (Photo supplied by UHG because of visitor restrictions)

The predicted surge in Covid19-related admissions to Galway’s hospitals has been delayed – for now – giving much-needed breathing space to ramp-up preparations and increase Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity and beds for when it does hit.

But hospital management remains concerned in particular with the ‘significant’ number of staff in the West who have been taken off the frontline because they are ill from coronavirus, or self-isolating as a precaution after coming in close contact with an infected person.

And as the latest figures show 86 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Galway – seven times the figure from a fortnight ago – the HSE has conceded that local testing for the virus was suspended Sunday due to a shortage of testing kits. Limited testing resumed on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, although hospital chiefs in the West insist they have sufficient levels of personal protective equipment (PPE), nursing homes across Galway are facing a shortage of basic equipment such as masks, and many have appealed to the public for donations.

Chief Clinical Director Saolta Group, and consultant cardiologist, Dr Pat Nash, said UHG, the main Covid-19 hospital in the West, has experienced increased activity but ‘not a huge surge in admissions’.

“The hospital still has significant capacity available both on wards and ICU,” he said.

But Dr Nash stressed there was no room for complacency and the public needed to continue to observe social distancing, stay at home and practice hand hygiene.

 

See full story – and 23 pages of coverage on the Covid-19 crisis in Galway – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or available to buy as a digital edition via our website www.connachttribune.ie. The Tribune can also be ordered as part of your shopping delivery from most outlets now.

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Connacht Tribune

Loan sharks prey on families hit by pandemic

Denise McNamara

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Moneylenders have been targeting working class areas in Galway where hundreds of people have lost their jobs in the lockdown, encouraging them to take out loans with exorbitant interest rates.

Deputy for Galway East Sean Canny said he had received several reports of estates in the city where leaflets had been distributed recently by legitimate loan sharks.

“These people are licensed so they are not doing anything illegal but I do think it’s immoral in these times and my advice is to ignore money lenders,” he stressed.

“We have credit unions where people can go to for advice and for loans and we have MABS [Money Advice and Budgeting Service] which can provide advice that maybe they don’t need more money but may need to manage their budget better.

“People don’t make the best decisions when they’re stressed but I would really urge them not to go down this road because they can charge interest rates of 187% which is really fleecing people.”

Paul Bailey, Head of Communications at the Irish League of Credit Unions, said they have also been getting reports of leaflets being dropped by moneylenders in working class areas.

 

See full story – and 23 pages of coverage on the Covid-19 crisis in Galway – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or available to buy as a digital edition via our website www.connachttribune.ie. The Tribune can also be ordered as part of your shopping delivery from most outlets now.

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