Irish Language Blog

Not just ‘bruite’ — some Irish terms for preparing potatoes Posted by on May 6, 2017 in Irish Language

(le Róislín) 

By Scott Bauer (United States Department of Agriculture (link)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As you can see in the picture above, there are many ways to prepare potatoes (prátaí a réiteach).   One of the most basic would simply be “bruite,” which means rather amazingly, “boiled,” “baked,” “grilled,” or simply “cooked.”  Or, using the same basic verb, we could say, “iad a bhruith” (to boil/bake/grill/cook them).  But, of course, there are many more options.  The illustration shows just five (cúig cinn); there are, of course, many more (i bhfad níos mó).

A quick review of “práta” might be in order, although it is one of the more straightforward words in Irish.  It’s also interesting to note that three of the four Irish phrases above do NOT need the word práta in them.  Context tells us that “prátaí” are involved.  Anyway, here’s the scoop:

práta, a potato; also, “of a potato”; prátaí, potatoes, also, “of potatoes”

an práta, the potato; an phráta, of the potato; na prátaí, the potatoes, na bprátaí, of the potatoes

Let’s take a closer look at the phrases.  First, perhaps you’d like to try filling in the blanks here.

b __ i __ s __ á __ n  phrátaí.   

s __ a __  a __  donn

Tater Tots (R), we’re not doing an English language challenge here, so we may as well just use the full spelling

p __ á __ a  b __ c __ i __ t __

b __ ú __ t __ n

And here are the answers.

(1) “brioscáin phrátaí” or “criospaí” (known as “crisps” in Ireland and the UK and as “potato chips” in the US).  BTW, “chips” as in “fish and chips” or in the US, “french fries,” are “sceallóga.”

(2) “Slamar” is an interesting word, basically meaning a “hash” of meat or vegetables or a heap of soft material. Corned beef hash is “slamar mairteoil shaillte.” “Hashed,” though an adjective, can also be translated by “slamar,” as in “slamar glasraí” (hashed vegetables).  “Donn” is “brown.”  As in the English phrase “hash browns,” the “potato” part is implied in “slamar donn.”  In English, the full phrase was originally “hashed brown potatoes,” gradually evolving into “hash brown potatoes,” and eventually just “hash browns,” sometimes written as one word.  Now all three phrases are in use.  I don’t recall ever actually seeing “prátaí” attached to the phrase “slamar donn,” but, of course, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.

(3) Tater Tots ® is a trade-marked product, so there’s not that much point in trying to translate it, but, that said, it is interesting to note that the Irish word for “toddler” is “tachrán.” I don’t know of any shortened form of “tachrán,” as “tot” is to “toddler.”   There are other names for similar products (potato gems, potato royals, potato pom-poms, juliennes, potato puffs and the specific brand-name products Tater Treats, Cheesy Tots, Spud Puppies, Hash Bites, Mexi-Fries, Potato Locos, and even Hotchos) but I’ve only found one Irish phrase that somewhat corresponds, “smailceanna prátaí” (potato puffs, lit. puff or snack or mouthful of potatoes)

(4) “Práta bácáilte” means “baked potato,” based, quite straightforwardly on “bácáil” (baking, to bake, bake).

(5) “Brúitín” means “mashed potatoes” or really just “mash” (as the noun). The verb “brúigh,” on which “brúitín” is based,  means “push” or “mash” or “crush.” The word “potato” isn’t needed; brúitín is understood to be made of potatoes.  Similarly, the UK or Irish phrase ‘bangers and mash” doesn’t need explanation that it means “sausage, specifically ‘bangers,’ and mashed potatoes.”  Also, similarly, “gravy and mash” is understood to be “gravy and mashed potatoes,” not mashed turnips or cauliflower, afaik.

Bhuel, however you like your prátaí, there you have it, four terms (ceithre théarma) and five ways to prepare them (chúig dhóigh len iad a réiteach).  Cén dóigh is fearr leat iad? 

Oh, yes, and there are some dialect words for potato, including: fata (Conamara) and préata (Ulaidh).   Bon appétot, oops, I mean, “Bon appétit!”  SGF — Róislín

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