The 3-in-1

Described by my roommate as the “pinnacle of Irish-Chinese cuisine” (it’s hard for me to distinguish Irish sarcasm), the 3-in-1 can be found in any chipper or Chinese takeaway. And by chipper, I mean any place that serves fried delights late into the night.

The 3-in-1 is straight and to the point. You’ll get a plastic or aluminum tin filled with:

  1. A bed of white rice, followed by
  2. A layer of fries (the Irish seem to like their fries cut thick), topped off with
  3. Sate or curry sauce.

It looks like a big blob of goop, and its texture certainly is like that — but trust me, this tastes great when you have a few beers inside of you. Add breaded chicken balls to this concoction and it turns into a 4-in-1.


Sometimes people ask me what I did in Ireland, and I always make it a point to say something about the 3-in-1. Is it really that good? Students usually laugh when I mention it.

Perhaps it’s because of the sheer absurdity of the thing. Rice + french fries? Who would have thought? It may not be the most refined dish out there, but it’s prevalent enough that every Irish student has an opinion of it.

And so, the 3-in-1 has a place in my heart. Or my arteries.

Christmas in Trim, Ireland

The Christmas season is for family, friends, and food. Things like praising 6-pound 5-ounce baby Jesus if you’re a devout Christian, getting Chinese take-out if you’re Jewish, or lamenting the present state of humanity if you’re disillusioned. Or just another day if you’re Dutch. But what happens when your family is nine odd time zones away from where you live, and you have no (practical) way of reaching them without collapsing the piggy bank? Lucky for me, I have Brian as a roommate.

He took me under his wing during the holiday season. So away we went to his hometown in Trim, where he showed me what the cool kids do for fun.  And the actual Ireland — not the dopey touristy kind where everybody wears green and leprechauns come out of people’s arses with pots of gold.

Where’s Trim?
Trim Castle.
Trim Castle at sunset. Picture by Andrew Parnell.

Some of the students in Dublin ask me: “What are you doing in Trim?” as though I was dragged there by unseen forces. CNN ranked it as one of the top ten places to change your child’s life, but my roommate is puzzled as to why that is so.

Trim is in county Meadth (called the “heritage capital” of Ireland by the tourism industry), about forty minutes away from Dublin. The water there has natural limestone in it, so if you put on a warm kettle and let the water sit, you can see sediment start to clump at the bottom. It’s healthier for you and gives the water an interesting taste.

There are twelve or so pubs to serve the 10,000 people that live here.  And when it comes to touristy things to do, there’s a spot where you can shout obscenities at some ancient ruins, and the ancient ruins will echo and shout the same obscenities back to you.

Trim is also the hometown of authors like Jonathan Swift (he wrote Gulliver’s Travels) and the Duke of Wellington, and The Castle chipper, which sells garlic fries and other tasty foods, with pubs and stuff all within walking distance. You won’t find the last one in a travel booklet, but everybody in town knows what it is.

What were the holidays like in Trim? 

There’s a man in the neighborhood called “The Dub” (because he’s from Dublin), and he has the best Christmas lights in town. Families make it a tradition to go to his house every year. He’ll even pop outside sometimes to give the children sweets.

It was nice to have a real fireplace warm up the house. We had cozy movie nights in and played board games like Articulate! and Cranium with the family and the neighbors (which get louder and louder as the game progresses). The days leading up to the secret gift exchange are probably the most confusing part — what on earth do you give someone you’ve known your entire life?

I stayed with Brian and his family for about eight days and almost every day for breakfast they served a “fry-up” — that is, with eggs, toasted brown bread, grilled tomatoes, black pudding, white pudding, rashers (kind of like bacon), and sausages. Brian’s mother even put a fry-up on after Christmas Mass. Brian tells me she’s never done that before, or even have fry-ups that often — probably only because guests are over. I dunno, I enjoyed being spoiled with great food and company.


On another note, it’s funny to see my roommate back in his hometown, and how he interacts with his old friends and family. Listen enough and you can hear stories about him that were never mentioned before. They’ve known him longer than I have after all.