Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fattening up for the long journey home: what the Irish have in common with Jewish grandmothers

We're in our last week in Ireland, and our friends, misreading the parable, have decided to fatten us up as if they were expecting the prodigal son, not getting rid of us. And yes, I realise that I've ended up as the cow in that particular mangled image. Let us move swiftly on.

It's incredibly lovely. Our next-door-neighbours, who've been surrogate parents during our time here (down to nagging about buying a house but stopping short of telling me I can't go out looking like that) came round last night with fish pie and creme brulees. And wine, of course. Lots of wine. This is Ireland; the booze is assumed.
Tomorrow and Saturday are dinners out with other, equally lovely, groups of pals; and on Sunday our neighbour-friends and 'co-parents' are hosting a farewell brunch with a gang of our local mates with kids. I'm anticipating bagels, bubbly, and chaos. And lots of tears - mine, at least.

When it comes to emotions, the Irish are more like the English than the Americans. They'll keep it to themselves; people don't want to see that kind of mess. But this revolving platter of meals that's coming our way is showing us what we knew without words. For our Irish friends, we're part of the family here; and when family comes round, you cook. You show them you care. Then you drink way more than you're capable of and start a fight. Think we'll leave the latter to the kids - this time, anyway.


Relatedly, I've been thinking recently about Irish words and phrases that I'm going to miss. There's all the usual stuff, that makes you feel like you're in a Hollywood version of a set-in-Ireland movie; the 'your man's and the 'that's grand, so's. But there's also a wealth of sayings that make me giggle every time I hear them. And here, in a terrible segue, are my two favourite food-related ones:

1) If you want to say that something took you about a week, or that you haven't seen someone for most of the week, you describe that time as 'the guts of a week' ('Sure, I haven't seen your man for the guts of a week, so')

2) If you want to describe someone as skinny, you'd say, 'Sure, there's not a pick on you'.

The latter especially always reminds me of Hansel and Gretel and I get a picture of all these Irish folk poking out sticks rather than fingers to be considered svelte. I'm relatively certain that, after this week of being fed for the long trip to the new country, 'there's not a pick on you' will be the last phrase I'm hearing. But in the guts of a week, we'll be gone. And excited though I am to be going home, it'll be sad to leave this crazy country behind.


Anonymous said...

Well, I will probably cry on Sunday...though not necessarily in front of you.

Sally Clements said...

We'll miss you. Hope you get back for a visit...