Ireland, the Weather and Bread

The rain in Ireland is the wettest in the world—bar none! Not even monsoon in India can beat it. Infuriatingly, a quick glance out of the window as I was trying to decide what to wear, didn’t even begin to inform me of the depth of penetration a light drizzle can inflict. Just one minute’s exposure, though, and not only only was I drenched, but so was my suitcase and everything in it.

Fortunately, we only had one serious day of rain out of the ten we spent on Ireland’s shores, and that was on the day we flew out of Dublin back to Berlin. By then, it was good to leave the rain behind, but we loved our time in that gentle, poetic, stout-loving land, and Andreas is already planning his next visit.

For someone who lives in Berlin, Irish home-baked bread is a delight. Soft, tasty, nursery food that soaks up hearty soups deliciously and, when properly buttered, holds together just long enough to get into your mouth before delicately scattering its many tastes and textures on your tongue. Uncalled for alliteration aside (there’s something in the Irish air that brings out the poet in the most unlikely creatures), yum yum! as Anthony Blanche might say. German bread, while being delicious in many important ways, rarely manages ‘soft,’ preferring instead  to be ‘sturdy and long-lasting’—rather like the Germans.

Tibetan bread is another beast entirely. A version of it was one of the first dishes I ever saw anyone cook for Sogyal Rinpoche. It was in Tenby at that first Easter retreat I attended at the caravan park, when I ended up spending most of my time burning my uncomfortable energies away by washing dishes. I remember an Australian woman was asked by Rinpoche to make what he called “mother’s bread” , which is basically a very simple 6 inch round loaf of white unleavened dough that doesn’t acquire a crust and barely rises. (What, I wonder, does mother’s bread say about the Tibetan character?) I never learnt the recipe because it didn’t appeal to my palatte—then or now.

Anyway, Chris had never made it before, and once her loaf emerged from the oven wasn’t quite sure how to serve it. Should it be sliced, or left whole, or what? The only version either of us had seen was a hollow shell, but we didn’t know whether this hollow shell was a ‘before’ or ‘after.’ Doubt plus lack of experience often equals epically stupid decisions, and together we decided that perhaps the entirely indigestible gluey interior of the loaf should be scooped out—or at least some of it. We didn’t consider, at that time, what Rinpoche would then eat. Hmmnn…

Five minutes after the loaf had been buttled in to Rinpoche we were informed, in no uncertain terms, that we were idiots and dolts, and Chris was strongly encouraged to start all over again. Which, to her credit, she did without hesitation.

The moral of this story? Never abandon common sense, especially when you find yourself up-close-and-personal with a Buddhist master.

I have nothing to illustrate any of this post, but here are a couple of entirely irrelevant snaps of the view from our cottage at Dzogchen Beara—especially for Susie.

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