Residence: Gloucester, MA
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/13/16
Primary Language: English
Recipe for Faherty Irish Soda Bread
3 cups flour 1 cup raisins
½ cup sugar ¼ pound butter (less 1 tbs) – room temp
1 shake nutmeg 2 eggs
3 tsp baking powder 1 cup milk
3 tsp caraway seeds
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and lightly flour 8” round cake pan. Mix all ingredients together by hand or bread hook (if using machine).
Bake for 55 minutes.
From the informant: “I learned the recipe from my mother Rosalie Faherty. She learned it from her childhood friend’s Mom. The recipe originally was in terms like a saucer of this and a pinch of that. She had to convert it to cups and tablespoons. I first made the Irish bread in high school, and since I have made it every St. Patrick’s Day that I can remember. My mother used to make up to a couple dozen on St. Patrick’s Day, but now me and my eight siblings make it and make about thirty collectively each year.”
My mom taught me this recipe, too, but I never cooked it on my own this year. I never even had the recipe written down until I asked my mom for the formal one – it’s often taught from person to person. I thought it would be perfect for this project, so I asked her a bit more about it. It’s widely known in my family as our go to family dish.
I grew up eating this Irish bread each and every year on St. Patty’s Day. Living north of Boston, other neighbors would leave Irish soda bread on our porch, and we would leave some on theirs. I would take it to class, my parents would take it to work, and it really signified the Irish holiday of St. Patrick’s Day. This specific recipe was taught to me by my mother when I was in high school, and I would occasionally help her cook it. Similarly, her mother, my grandmother, taught it to her when my mother was just a child. Interestingly, even after all this time, I had always just thought that the recipe originated with my family. This class made me speculate that wasn’t true; recipes don’t just appear out of thin air. After my interview I found out that my grandmother actually learned it from her friend, and my grandmother was the one to translate this “folk dish” into an actual measured recipe.
Therefore, the dish that my family feels identifies ourselves is actually only two generations removed from another family. Additionally, while it was my grandmother that authored the recipe, she herself is not Irish. In fact, she’s the only grandparent of mine that isn’t 100% Irish; that I associate my Irish identity with a recipe that was from another family, authored by a woman who isn’t at all Irish, just shows how folklore can change hands and mediums every year and every generation. For an added bonus, see below the Irish bread I made this year, brought into work just like my parents.