Being the child of immigrants (or an Indigenous person, I’m learning) is being slightly disconnected from your birth culture. There are so many things that I can’t connect to that people who were raised in their country just get. Recipes, however, travel well, and provide such a feeling of home and connection with your culture. For me, soda bread is one of the quintessential Irish foods, it is the glue that holds an Irish household together. So learning how to make it is really important, especially now that I live so far from home and can’t go home for an Ulster fry very often (not that I went home a lot when I lived in Southern Ontario but I went home more).
This shouldn’t have been as exciting as it was but it was so thrilling to get soda bread right. It’s an easy recipe, the cooking just requires some patience. For Irish people soda bread is the base food, it’s like 1) potatoes and 2) soda bread. There are regional differences. For example, the more common version is the oven version, it is more common in the south of Ireland and then there is gridle soda bread and it is more common in the north. Gridle soda is the kind of soda bread that I grew up with.
On another note, I find it fascinating how almost every culture has a bread like this, the Irish have soda bread, the Indians have naan, the Mexicans have tortillas, the First Nations have bannock. They are simple breads with few ingredients and can be made quickly and easily to round out any meal.
But anyways, I am so proud to have achieved this food and have it look and taste like my mom’s (which apparently means it tastes like my great-granny’s).
If you would like to try and make your own soda bread, I’m going to put the recipe here. I’m not certain that everyone will like it. We call it stodgy, but I’m not even sure that’s a word that I’ve heard beyond Irish people so, I don’t know if that makes sense. But I’m not certain it’s to everyone’s taste, but it tastes like home to me.
I like to eat my soda plain with butter, however my family likes it better fried or toasted (don’t toast it if it’s fresh, but you can fry it fresh). The best way to eat it though is the Belfast Butty or sausage soda. The sausage soda is super simple, just soda bread and a sausage sliced in half. The Belfast Butty is kind of the same thing but with egg and cheese as well. The picture below is kind of a combo of the two, I didn’t want to fry an egg that night.
Anyways, this is just me being sappy about finally making, and making properly, one of my favourite homey, childhood foods.