Róisín Ingle on ... Tiger tales


I met a vegetarian years ago who told me about a cooking ritual he and his wife enjoy. They put a fair slosh of very good olive oil in a pan with loads of crushed garlic and finely chopped red chilli. Then they leave it there while they open a bottle of wine. I went home that night and told my boyfriend. “They just leave it there?” he asked. “They don’t turn on the heat?” “No,” I told him. The vegetarian had explained about the time it takes for the oil to be infused with the flavours. The waiting was the important part, he said.

The vegetarian told me they turn up the heat later when they had added some cherry tomatoes and then eventually the pasta they’ve cooked is tossed in all that garlicky chilli oil. And that’s dinner. But we couldn’t leave it at that. When we tried it that first time years ago we added bacon bits. We ate it and we thought we had died and been reincarnated as Monsieur Guilbaud. We have made this dish at least once a week ever since.

And the other day, although it might not seem related but bear with me it sort of is, I bought my boyfriend a present from Tiger. I heard about it at a women-only lunch recently. When we weren’t talking about domestic arguments and how to solve them – one of them swore by the simple but effective solution of a well-timed cup of tea – we were talking about this place called Tiger which is a sort of nirvana if you don’t have loads of money but want a retail buzz that results in bags of cheery, clever, colourful things.

There are several in the Leinster area including ones in Dublin’s Nassau Street and Dún Laoghaire, there’s a new one in Cork and one planned for Galway but the one I went to this week was in the GPO Arcade. It was ages since I’d visited that small, covered lane which transports you Star Trek style from the side of the GPO to Henry Street. And I had the excuse of two small girls’ impending birthday party which made it even more of a joy.

My Tiger swag: Party bags that look like carrots and self-assembly popcorn cartons and crazy monster paper placemats and giant chalks and a pencil sharpener that is also a globe and insect wall stickers . . . and I could go on, but you catch my drift.

It’s a sophisticated euro store, the design is slick right down to the white walls and the orange lamp shades. It was brought to Ireland by an entrepreneurial Dublin couple who spotted the store on a trip to London.

The music is a carefully chosen Tiger playlist of jaunty tunes that women in their 50s and 60s looking at head massage implements can sing along to but it’s also music that won’t irritate the teenager in skinny jeans who is checking out the bicycle bells. It’s a democratic place like that. There are children ogling the beautiful stationery and a nun browsing the Lange Underbukser.

Tiger is a Danish brand, the name comes from “Tier”, the Danish for ten kroner – which is around €1.30 – and so everything is €2 or €4 and has those funny sounding Scandi names you find in Ikea. And even though it’s all cheap, you don’t feel impoverished here, you feel happy. At least I do.

Back to the Underbukser. The nun was looking at them and so was I. At €10 they are one of the most expensive things in the shop. Lange Underbukser is Danish for “long underpants” but they are actually long johns. Red long johns.

The other week I bought my boyfriend some normal-looking pyjamas because I was trying to get him out of his own prized black Underbuksers, which had gone all bobbly and horrible after years of wear. The decent pyjamas were nice and all but I knew by him that he was missing his Underbuksers. I popped the red ones in my basket.

I read something recently about relationships that made me cackle with recognition: “You may from time to time notice a peculiar phenomenon whereby other people react positively and affectionately to your wife or husband or partner. They appear to genuinely like them whereas as you just find them irritating. This may be because they are actually nice and interesting people. You just forgot.”

But I’ve been remembering that lately and as a result our relationship has taken on a different flavour, like the olive oil slowly mingling with all that chilli and garlic. The Underbuksers from Tiger were my way of telling him that. roisin@irishtimes.com

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