Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Twelfth Part Two: Ulster's National Dish

Some will claim that the Ulster Fry is our national dish. Partial as I am to a good fry from time to time (a real one has fried pancakes and vegetable roll*, none of this hash browns and black pudding nonsense - be wary of people who seek to deviously subvert and internationalise the Fry), I have long believed that there is one other food, an unsung hero, to whom the title of Ulster's National Dish truly belongs.

It's not yellow man. It's not Tayto crisps. It's not even Bushmills whiskey. No ladies and gentlemen, I give you (drum roll.....) the egg and onion sandwich!

No church tay meetin, Sunday School social, family picnic or Twelfth day can be considered truly complete without some egg and onion. It has been the staple of Ulster Protestants for many generations. I was delighted to see one of the food vans in the field at Portavogie had restored egg and onion to its rightful position - jostling for orangey-yellow attention with the modern day bacon & cheese burger, and placed above the chilli chicken burgers! This particular van owner was obviously a man of considerable insight, as he was also selling tea and buns. You'll never get that at a McDonalds franchise.

So impressed was I, that I was even prepared to tolerate the (frankly unnecessary) innovation of the egg and onion bap, as a substitute for the standard egg and onion sandwich, on the basis that he had described it using the traditional term "bap", not a roll, and that he hadn't overstepped the boundary by going for something as poncey or elitist as a baguette, panini or (sharp intake of breath) a wrap!

So I paid my £1.50 and took a bite - boysadear, the perfect egg and onion! Hard boiled egg (not scrambled) raw white chunky onion (not the scallion substitute, and not finely chopped), and real butter (not mayonnaise or salad cream). All's well in the world when traditional egg and onion still exists as a menu option for Ulstermen.

(* for those of you who don't know, the humble vegetable roll is about 99% sausage "meat". Ah, the Northern Ireland sense of irony and humour!)