‘I know everyone loves their mother’s dinners, but mine is a little different . . . ’

The Irish Times: We Love Food – Debbie Clancy, advertising department

Debbie Clancy, second left, with her father, Shay Clancy, her mother, Margaret, and her sister, Maggie.

Debbie Clancy, second left, with her father, Shay Clancy, her mother, Margaret, and her sister, Maggie.


One of my earliest memories is the smell of bacon or bacon ribs all over the house on a Saturday evening. My Mam cooked her trademark cabbage every Saturday and the bacon ribs and cabbage were a marriage made in heaven. And even better left overnight to infuse.

My Granny passed this recipe on to my mother and then she passed this on to her four daughters.

I know everyone loves their mother’s home-cooked dinners but mine is a little different. She won’t be happy about me writing this, not that she will get to see it (I think) as she is not digitally savvy, so my skin is saved (I hope).

But she seems to cremate everything she cooks, ranging from her lamb cutlets to her sirloin steak. They’re good enough to bounce off the kitchen tiles, but my Dad doesn’t seem to mind – he is well used to it by now – and even used to get a little protective when my sisters and I used to give her a slagging off over her cooking skills. “Leave your mother alone,” he would chime, “there are children out there who are starving.” We would hang our head in shame and carry on chewing and chewing and chewing until our jaws throbbed.

I look back now and think it’s really sweet that Dad wouldn’t let us say a bad word about Mam’s cooking – even though he probably thought the same himself.

The one good skill my mother had was her cabbage and we could never take that away from her. She makes a fantastic Sunday dinner of cabbage and bacon with creamy mash. When I was in Australia a few years back, it was the one dinner I couldn’t wait to have when I got back home. All my friends would say they missed salt and vinegar chips from the chipper, but mine was a good old bacon and cabbage dinner.

I have fond memories of us all sitting around the kitchen table on Sunday, all of us sharing stories of the week gone by and having some laughs. It might sound odd but my Dad always had a cup of the salty cabbage water to accompany his dinner. I believe I got my bad habit from him, my love of salt . . . well that’s what I tell him . . .

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