I’ve been tagged; given my first blog challenge and this came by way of the forum admin at Violets Pantry a food forum I belong to.
I and other forum members have been challenged to cook and write up a favourite retro recipe. Now this really got me pondering and had me creating mind-maps: What exactly is retro? How retro do I have to be? What retro food do I eat? Does any of it hold special memories for me?
So what is retro? It’s a word that seems to be ‘en vogue’ at the current time, applied to everything from food to home furnishings. The word “retro” derives from the Latin prefix retro, meaning “backwards” or “in past times”, in modern usage the term generally applies to aspects of modern culture which are consciously derivative or imitative of those trends, modes, fashions, or attitudes of the recent past which have or had come to be seen as unfashionable. With regard to food retro refers to any food item that is considered to be old fashioned and unsuited to our current society, however, there is a growing trend for people to start cooking these types of food again.
Now back to me and this task.
I decided to focus on Shepherd’s Pie, that uses left over roast meat not raw mince. I chose this because it reminds me of having dinner with my Grandma as a young girl. When my mum had her weekly University class I went to stay with my Grandma until my dad finished work and I always hoped Shepherd’s Pie would be served up for dinner, there is something so comforting about the tender meat and vegetables in a savoury gravy topped with the lightest fluffiest potatoes which have slightly crisped and turned golden on top. To this day the sound of tapping my fork on the top of the potatoes makes me smile.
My Grandma always served this with extra peas and carrots on the side, a tradition I continue to follow although I do jazz them up a little by cooking them in butter and either honey or maple syrup. The sweetness really complements the deep salty savoury taste of the meat. I also always use left over roast meat (beef or lamb) to prepare this dish as I find it gives a better texture and flavour overall. As for the recipe, it’s a family secret, passed from generation to generation but, Darina Allen has a really good version in her book Irish Traditional Cooking: Over 300 Recipes from Ireland’s Heritage.