Today, as James Joyce fans worldwide know, is Bloomsday. (If you don’t know, June 16th is when Joyce’s work, Ulysses, takes place.) I’ve been a Joyce fan since, during sophomore year in college, I read it twice, in two different courses.
Thanks to a theatrically-connected friend, I went to the Bloomsday Breakfast, an annual event at NYC’s Bloom’s Tavern. After downing a Bloody Mary (9 AM is a bit out of my usual range but for Joyce…) we ate scrambled eggs, sausage and hash brown potatoes. Afterwards, smiling and nodding at all those in period costume, we went upstairs to hear readers of Joyce’s work including Malachy McCourt and his brother Alfie, Colin Broderick, Jim Norton, Charlotte Moore, Terry Donnelly, Brenda Meaney, Fiona Walsh and, to mark the end, Fionnula Flanagan who, as always, read the Molly Bloom sequence that ends in “yes, yes, yes” (part of why the book was considered obscene back in the day.) Tonight, Fionula will read it again at Symphony Space with other Irish talent.
The event is sponsored by Origin Theater, an organization that brings “European” playwrights work (largely Irish) to American audiences. Origin also sponsors the annual Irish Festival. Much of their work is wonderful.
This is a recipe for colcannon, a mixture of mashed potatoes with greens that can be kale, cabbage or whatever takes your fancy. It goes with anything, especially a glass of Guinness.
4 russet potatoes (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), (note to US readers: we call these baking potatoes) peeled and cut into large chunks
5-6 Tbsp unsalted butter (with more butter for serving)
3 lightly packed cups of chopped kale, cabbage, chard, or other leafy green
3 green onions minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup milk or cream (my take on this is that cream is really what’s intended but if you’re watching calories….)
Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil.
Boil until the potatoes are fork tender (15 to 20 minutes). Drain in a colander.
Return the pot to the stove and set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pot and once it’s hot, add the greens. Cook 3-4 minutes or until greens are wilted and have given off some of their water.
Add green onions and cook 1 minute more.
Pour in milk or cream, mix well, and add potatoes. Reduce heat to medium.
Use a fork or potato masher mash the potatoes, mixing them up with the greens.
Add salt to taste and serve hot, with a lump (the Irish would say a “knob”) of butter in the center.
Raise a glass to Joyce who never saw a drink he could resist.