Tag: Holy Thursday

Last Suppers

Thursday, 29 March, 2018 0 Comments

Today, Holy Thursday, commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. That simple meal of bread and wine was to be the last time he dined with his disciples.

The English journalist A. A. Gill set out to write about “Last Suppers” in September 2009, but he abandoned the project on the grounds that it was one of those things like “Make a list of the 10 sexiest women ever.” He said: “You have all the anxiety of choice but none of the pleasure of execution.” So, in the middle of the project he switched from last suppers to the challenge of picking the food he would choose for the rest of his life, if he had to live with other people’s national cuisine. Gill couldn’t settle on one, so he picked four regional cuisines:

South-west France: “Foie gras and cassoulet, all sorts of duck, figs and Roquefort… This is the food of old Gascony, of Cyrano de Bergerac: a cuisine for the last leg of life, of post-prandial naps, of meals that soak into each other, of a languid, replete and easy life. I could live with that.”

Northern Italy: “Piedmont and the Po Valley, where they grow rice, make risottos, collect truffles, cook with butters, lard and the light olive oil of Genoa and have the youngest veal. I’d have to stretch it a bit to Parma, to take in hams, cheese and ice-cream, but that would do me.”

The North-West Frontier: “The mountainous, tribal lands of Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan: the very best lamb curries, biryanis, pilaus, apricots and quail, Peshawari naan, yoghurt and pomegranate juice eaten with gusto and arguments.”

Vietnam: “I love the food of Vietnam. It is an ideal combination of delicacy and panache. It has enormous variety of flavours and textures without being irredeemably twee. It’s refined but it’s also assertive. It has tiny little finger food and dog.”

In the end, Gill came to the following conclusion: “If you’re going to have a perfect food retirement, it would be Vietnam for breakfast, northern Italy for lunch and then alternately south-west France and the North-West Frontier for dinner.”

Background: A. A. Gill died of cancer in London in December 2016, at the age of 62. Adrian Anthony Gill was also an alcoholic who stopped drinking at 29 and he followed the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) “12-step plan” to recovery. In tribute to the fellowship, he began using the name ‘A. A.’ Gill professionally. His finest writing is collected in The Best of A. A. Gill and it covers his observations on food, television, life and travel.

The Last Supper


Holy Thursday stand-up: Three monks

Thursday, 13 April, 2017 0 Comments

Given that this is Holy Thursday, it’s time for something meditative, and they don’t get much better than this very old Irish joke, which begins: “Tríar manach do·rat díultad dont saegul.” Not familiar with ancient Gaelic? This will help: Tríar = three persons, a trio; manach = of monks (genitive plural of ‘manach‘); do rat = gave (3rd singular perfect active of ‘do beir‘); díultad = denial, repudiation; don = to the (preposition ‘do’ + article ‘in’), saegul = ‘world’.

Don’t know if word-for-word translation would work on the stand-up circuit, though. An impatient audience might start thumbing the phones. The problem is that the language being used is probably more than 1,000 years old. Here’s a modernized, translated version:

Three monks decided to abandon the material world and its distractions for the ascetic, contemplative life in the wilderness. After exactly a year’s silence the first monk said:
“Tis a good life we lead.”
At the end of the next year, the second monk replied: “It is so.”
Another year being completed, the third monk exclaimed: “If I can’t have peace and quiet here, I’m going back to the world!”

Those anxious to read the original can find it in the British Library, where it’s known as Egerton 190. The manuscript was copied in 1709 by one Richard Tipper of Mitchelstown, County Cork. Dennis King, who writes the NÓTAÍ IMILL blag Gaeilge/Sean-Ghaeilge, has gone to considerable lengths to translate, illustrate and record this medieval Irish joke and his web page devoted to the Tríar manach is charming and instructive. It might not be the stuff of stand-up, but it is durable.

Three monks


Their innocent faces clean

Sunday, 13 April, 2014 0 Comments

Twas on a Holy Thursday The children walking two & two in red & blue & green Grey-headed beadles walkd before with wands as white as snow, Till into the high dome of Pauls they like Thames waters flow Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song Or like harmonious […]

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Heard the one about the three monks?

Thursday, 5 April, 2012

Seeing that this is Holy Thursday, it’s time for something contemplative, and they don’t get much better than this very old Irish joke, which begins: “Tríar manach do rat díultad don tsaegul.” Not familiar with ancient Gaelic? Here’s some help: tríar = three persons, a threesome; manach = of monks (genitive plural of ‘manach‘); do […]

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