Selkie-Cuisine is very much centered around fish and seafood, as well as the corresponding sidedishes. Traditional cooking demands the fish cooked to be fished from the seas around the Free Lands, but more liberal restaurants will allow fish from other seas to be cooked, too, likewise with the seafood.
However, agricultural products, such as from lifestocks and fields, as well as vegetables and fruits, is also quite important.
There are also several regional differences in the cuisine.
The meals also don't only serve the function of nutrition, but also as a gathering of the family. Selkie use fats and oils to cook and also are very knowledgeable in herbs and the likes for spicing, making tea or as remedies (especially the older females).
Amongst the integral parts of the cuisine are:
- Dairy and milk products: butter, milk, buttermilk, cheese.
- Grains, main regions of origin:
- Freshwater fish: trout, salmon, herring, flounder, cod, perch.
- Meat, main regions of origin:
- Seafood: mackerel, cod, shellfish (especially mussels, oysters and lobster), Caille, Double-Finned Perch, Black-Backed Bass.
- River fish:
- Vegetables: Cabbages, curly kales, carrots, onions, kohlrabi, radish, lettuces, potatoes, pumpkins, spinach, leeks.
- Fruits: Apples (to the point of staple food, connected to Rhiannon), pears, cherries, plums, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries.
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts,
Amongst the drinks and beverages served are:
- Alcoholic: Whiskey (single pot still, the most high regarded is the Briach Reserve), Fuisce Cáne (or Cane Whiskey), Cider, Ale and Spiorad na Bainne.
- Non-Alcoholic: Red/brown/white lemonade (with natural colours, although lemons are grown in the Archipelago, the majority is imported), Apple Juice, fruit and berry juices, Water and herbal teas.
lemon, oranges, coconuts, dates, mangos, watermelon, fish of various descriptions, palm wine
Milseán - Sweet Stuff
Selkie have a sweet tooth, whenever they can. So, they love their sweets, especially those, which aren't that much of a circumstance.
Typical sweets include:
- Battered Sausages, sausages coated in a thick layer of cornmeal batter, which sounds similar to a corn dog, but isn't because it usually isn't served on a stick. A variation of this is the Battered Fish, the same principle done to fish. They are usually consumed with a sauce.
- Maith, bread boiled in milk with sugar and spices.
- Chips, which is exactly what is says on the tin.
- Scipeáil, a popular pastry. It is a thick filling make of breadcrumbs, dried fruit and sweetener between two small layers pastry. Being cheap, being good for a long time and being easy to make are main characteristics of these sweets.
- Caramelised fruits are also popular.
Soláthar - Provisions
- Buan - Buan is the most basic provision, which every Selkie has with him on long trips on horseback or on foot. Basically, it's dark meat, for example cow meat, dried at open air, then ground into a powder for easier transportation. It can be kept for years. It's consumed by cooking it in a soup, which can then either be consumed directly or used as the base for a soup, depending on the available ressources.
- Arálong - Made from a dough with little fat or sugar, Arálong is usually eaten with marmelade. It is a provision for all sorts of traveling, both civilian and military. To this day, the SDF uses Arálong on both vessels and long marches as provisions for the soldiers. Combining Buan and Arálong yields a good result. It is usually made of wheat.
Stobhach - Selkie Stew
An iron pot over a fire belongs to the Selkie-household like nowehere else, at least in many interpretations. While many households still use this archaic measure and especially tourist-hotspot restaurants have this for show, many people prefer an induction cooker to make their food.
This is why cooks usually differ between two kinds of Stobhach: Traditional and Modern.
Traditional Stobhach is made over a fireplace in an cast iron pot, in restaurants it merrily boils the day away over the fire, new ingredients added over the day, cleaned in the evening to be reused the next morning. A house on the other hand puts on a new pot when it is needed, but boils it over an open fire, usually the house-fire, keeping it warm there.
Modern Stobhach is made in steel pots on modern stoves, made when needed, both at restaurants and at home. Many households, but only a few restaurants (mainly in areas, where a fireplace simply isn't possible, like on cruise liners) use this approach.
Although the recipe can vary from family to family, there are certain guidelines to a Stobhach: Lamb, carrots, onions and parsley are most certainly with it. Some recipies see seafood or other meat, more spices or different spices... the major point of this kind of stew is, that ingredients can be whatever the cook wants to use.
Fish and Seafood
The closer you get to the shores or rivers, the more often you will smell fish, either in the uncomfortable way of fish at the market or the more comfortable way on your plate.
Selkie, as a rule of thumb, love to eat their fish and seafood, but also eat other animals found by or in the sea. Be it red algae as part of a spicy salad, fried fish as the main course or the Strong Lawyer, lobster cooked in whiskey and cream, smoked as provisions, or the many alternatives, which can be cooked up, both from at home and overseas, Selkie will love it.
One of the most consumed fish is cod or perch, due to their overabundance and due to being cheap.
But not only the fish is consumed, its remains are used as well, for example many Selkie households know recepies using cod liver oil (if they use them or not is another question).
There are many theories about the 'why'. One is said to have roots in the mythical origins of the Selkie, coming from the sea. One is said to be, that fish and seafood aren't very expansive around these parts. One is said to be, that fish is healthy. Either way, it is good food.
Breakfast - Traditionally Selkie
A traditional Selkie Breakfast is a greasy affair, with porridge, eggs roasted from both sides, battered sausages (alternatively, battered fish), fat from the frying all around, bread to wipe it all up, tea and lemonade.
Especially far-spread and considered standard-recipies are:
- Potato Salad: Potatoes, butter and a dressing of mayonnaise.
- Cál ceannann or White Headed Salad: Potatoes, unsalted butter, milk, onions, leek, kale, cabbage and a few herbs. Usually a side to meat-meals.
- Inn Salad: Bibb lettuce, hard boiled eggs (usually sliced and used as decoration), cheese, various vegetables. Vinegar, herbs, mustard, water, mayonnaise for the dressing. The vegetables within vary from inn to inn.
- Cured Sausage Salad: Horseradish, radish, cucumber, onions, sausages, lettuce. Oil, vinegar and herbs for the Dressing.
- Chicken Salad: Herbs, onions, apples, celery, chicken breasts. Mayonnaise for the dressing.
Isla Stiúrthóir was famous for her Salads and wrote a few cooking books for the use by foreign cooks. In the Oileánra-Archipelago, local ingredients and tropical fruits are used to create magnificent salads, including fish salads. It is uncommon, but not unheard of to serve the salads with croutons, fresh bread is usually served along with it.
Pudding - Marseog
Puddings in the Free Lands can have a variety of forms, depending on where one is:
- In regions, where pork is often consumed, a version of blood sausage is prepared by stuffing pig blood, fat and a cereal into the stomach of the animal and cooking it after adding herbs, serving it either hot or deep fried and battered. This, known as Pig's Pudding or Mucmarseog, is especially far spread in the Mór-Land, where barley is used as a cereal.
- In regions, where cows are often not only providers of meat and leather, but also of milk, for example in the Silver Mountains or along the Icy Shore, marsog is usually a sweet and creamy dish usually consumed as a dessert. Traditionally, the thickening agent used in towns and cities are eggs, in the countryside, starch made of wheat or potato is used. This variant is known as Bómarseog or Cow's Pudding.
- Selkie-Gruel: A gruel made of grains boiled in water, sometimes refined with Buan and often ate with Arálong. The Selkie call it Prasech.