After I’d spent three miserable years at
So it was off to
At lunchtime we could actually leave the building and go into town. And sometimes if we got chatting to boys in O’Neill’s Café we didn’t bother going back in the afternoon. Of course, being painfully shy, I didn’t chat much to boys. But I liked being around when chatting was going on.
The Tech was where I first met and got to know Protestants. If there was sectarianism and bigotry around I can’t say I ever experienced or even noticed it. This was 1968 and the Troubles were just about to begin. We had a very enlightened teacher of Current Affairs and she grounded me in the background of
This wasn’t quite as bizarre as my previous miscomprehension of world affairs when, as a somewhat younger child, I’d thought that the Viet Cong had trained gorillas fighting for them and that the Americans, whilst very brave, hadn’t a chance of winning. I used to avidly watch the news hoping for a glimpse of these gorillas.
All this came back to me as a result of talking to my Aunt Maud yesterday. Maud’s brother Billy ran a café in Antrim that we went to occasionally. O’Neill’s Café was where the boys hung out but at Billy’s you could get rissoles. Those rissoles were so good.
I asked Aunt Maud,
Did your Billy tell anybody his rissole recipe before he died?
No. He never did.
That was a pity.
There was one thing he put into those rissoles that he never told anyone. But I think I know what it was.
What was it?
I think it was powdered onion soup.
Billy’s rissoles were made from carrots, onions, sausage meat and his secret ingredient. This mixture was shaped, dipped in flour, then beaten egg, then coated in batter and deep-fried. One rissole was enough for two people. Maud said that Billy never made much money of his most famous dish because he ‘made them too big.’ She also said he was very particular about his batter and ‘went mad’ if anyone opened the fridge door while it was chilling.
When I got home I got on the Internet and googled Antrim +Billy’s Café. I found this page and then spent hours looking at the whole site. Fascinating stuff for anyone who remembers pre-Troubles Antrim. I found myself looking at pictures of girls I remember from school, teachers from the Tech and staff from my time working in