Monday, 17 January 2011

Death By Cheese....

"McCormack and Richard Tauber are singing by the bed
There's a glass of punch below your feet and an angel at your head"

Financial crisis isn't the only thing that Ireland has in common with the Greeks, they also have some exceptional mythology. An underrated mythology if you will. Its got everything a good myth needs. Deceit, seductive ladies, death, moider! Like a good Saturday night in Galway.

Mr Shane MacGowan references an old tale of woe for Cú Chulainn. Trouble began for poor Cu Chulainn before he was even born. His mother was called Deichtineand she was the daughter of the King of Ulster. She was out with her father one night in search of a wondrous flock of beautiful birds. A snowstorm ensues and they take refuse at a near by house. The lady of the house goes into labour that evening and Deichtineand helps to birth that child and just like a 50s horror film there is a crash of lightening that preempts a mare in the stables giving birth to 2 colts.

A joyous evening for everyone, as the storm rages on outside. As dawn was breaking and everyone resurfacing with megalithic hangovers only for the parents of the new born to have disappeared so Deichtineand mothered that child unfortunelty only for the child to fall sick and die.

The god Lug appears to her and tells her he was their host that night, and that he has put his child in her womb, who is to be called Sétanta. Her pregnancy is a scandal as she is betrothed to Sulatam mac Róich, and the Ulstermen suspect Conchobar of being the father, so she aborts the child and goes to her husband's bed "virgin-whole". She then conceives a son whom she names Sétanta. Later changes his name after killing a dog. Jeremy Kyle eat your heart out.

And what a stunner he was not only was he a head turner his beauty could melt snow. I'm sure he would have had no problems with the ladies. He could walk up to the tallest and blondest girl, he would say....

It is the Greek mythology though that ties this all into cheese this very eve. Queen Maeve of Connaught meet an untimely demise at the hands of some hard curd. She was slain by her own nephew. She was bathing in the waters of Lough Ree when after hours of practice killed her by firing Tanag though a sling shot. Tanag being a hard pressed cheese. What a way to go.

Unfortunately many of the indigenous cheeses from Ireland have been lost over time. They had a Fraisce Grotha which translates as compression of curds. This would have been a fresh cheese. There are others to many a few Millsen, Gruth, That and Mulchan. But what they really strived at was butter, which would be buried in the bogs. Whether this was to preserve or to make it rancid is unclear.

Looks good. As traditional as an Irish wedding or a horse riding thorough a council estate....

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