Monday, October 28, 2013

Colcannon Night

As you prepare for Halloween think of an Irish tradition for that evening called Colcannon Night.  On that night "...a gold ring was concealed somewhere in the dish" of potatoes and cabbage... 

"In that old town [in Ireland], by the way, Hallowe'en was not Hallowe'en—it was "Colcannon Night," or "Snap-apple Night," [more info HERE ] so-called from the two things for which to young minds and hearts it was chiefly memorable. Colcannon—a most delicious dish (which people who don't know any better confound with ordinary mashed potatoes), for which the mouths of young and old watered the whole year round, was served in unlimited quantities on the Eve of All Saints. To the grown-up folk, the young men and women of marriageable age, eating the colcannon was considerably exciting, because usually a gold ring was concealed somewhere in the dish, and the young man or woman who was lucky enough to get it in his or her portion might take it as an augury of marriage before another 'Colcannon Night.'

But the younger folk did not bother much about such fooling. They enjoyed the colcannon for the colcannon's sake, and not for any significance attached to tricks with a ring. How delicious that colcannon was, and how well worth waiting a year for! The orthodox way to eat it was to have it in a pile on your plate roughly approximating to a cone; then to make a hole in the very centre of the pile into which a generous lump of butter was placed, which, quickly melting, made a luscious golden well; then around the outside of the colcannon to pour as much cream as possible without offending against manners by having it overflow your plate; then to take a spoonful of the luscious mixture and add still further to its lusciousness by dipping it in the "well" of molten butter aforesaid; then—but why go on? One who has eaten colcannon as a youth knows what followed. Those who have not had that felicity can not imagine the ambrosial character of the mouthful." [The Rosary Magazine. Somerset, Ohio: 1905]

"Colcannon  - potatoes and cabbage pounded together in a mortar and then stewed with butter, an Irish dish."  [ A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.  London: 1785]

"Amongst national dishes [Ireland] … colcannon, a mixture of potatoes and greens, seasoned with onions, salt, and pepper, finely braided together after boiling..."  [American Masonic Record, and Albany Saturday Magazine.  Albany: 1829]

For other posts on Halloween: Handing out Soul and Seed Cakes HERE and trying to bite a twirling apple with candles on a string at Snap-Apple night and Ducking for apples – not dunking – 1860s HERE. For recipes go HERE

©2013 Patricia Bixler Reber

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