We've got our own recipe for a brighter future
Guess what? Schloer, the drink your parents used to pour for you at Christmas dinner so you could pretend you were drinking wine? When you were already 22?
As essential as turkey, mince pies and crackers?
It's owned by a company right here in Northern Ireland.
I only discovered this incredible fact a few days ago ... which got me thinking about all the other iconic Norn Iron foodstuffs ...
1. Tayto crisps. My brother and I weren't allowed crisps - bad for you! So we had to acquire bootleg bags by returning empty Coca Cola bottles for 7p each, just enough to buy a packet of Tayto Cheese 'n' Onion. An explosion of flavour, these are delicious on their own or in a sandwich. No matter how many fancy canapes you serve, the dishes of Tayto will still empty first. Thrillingly, they are made at Tandragee Castle, about seven miles from where I grew up; sometimes we'd cycle over just to marvel at the sight of it.
2. Spelga yogurts. Particularly the mandarin and rhubarb varieties. In fact, I have never found a mandarin version made by any other brand. I first became aware of yogurt when I was six years old and on holiday in Scotland. On a bus trip, returning from Edinburgh, an elderly couple fetched two pots of yogurt out of their bags and began spooning it into them. My parents kept telling my brother and I to stop staring, but we were agog like meercats. As soon as we got back home I took a Coke bottle to the shop and tried my first yogurt. Tastes delicious, feels virtuously healthy. After a brief flirtation with Activa, I'm back with Spelga. But still not sure about whether there's an 'h' in yogurt.
3. Ormo Fruit Loaf. Recently rediscovered, redolent of childhood picnics. A lovely, light, vaguely-chewy bread packed with fruit. Laid low with lurgy, a slice of this slathered in raspberry jam will kickstart the appetite everytime.
4. Minerals from the The Classic Mineral Water Company or Cantrell -amp; Cochrane. Imagine "the mineral man" clattering round in a lorry packed with bottles of fizzy drink. Exotic lemon and lime and pineapple flavours, as well as white and red lemonade. A glass of the latter once a week at my granny's. Sodastream, get out of here!
5. Veda loaf by Sunblest. A malty bread unique to us. Two slices wrapped round a hunk of cheese could keep you going for days. Or dip it into an egg beat up in a cup, another treat only we appreciate.
6. Paul Rankin's Wheaten Bread. A relative newcomer to the market, but the only one that comes close to the home-baked version courtesy of your mum. Ditto Genesis scones.
7. Cookstown sausages. Keep your caviariosi. If it was good enough for George Best, it's good enough for me. Sizzlers, baked beans and powdery Queen's!
8 Linwood's Super Foods. Again, a relatively recent discovery, but a spoonful of flaxseed, cocoa and berries over cereal tastes so good it shouldn't, well, be good for you. But it is.
9. White's Porridge Oats. There's a new Toat'ly Oaty range in Original, Wild Fruit or Apple and Cinnamon flavours, available in individual sachets. I was sent some last week and it's a definite yes from me. Try with Linwoods for the best breakfast ever.
10. Sprott's ham from Portadown. Ask for it thinly sliced. No other ham comes close.
11. Tea. Punjana, Nambarrie. Knox's, SD Bells. Proper tea. Not like that weak-as-water English Tetley's stuff.
12. The traybake. In a perfect world, you would make these yourself. But if you don't have time, thankfully a plethora of home bakeries are cranking out any number of varieties on the Fifteen theme.
Bramleys by the box load from Ruddell's Farm. Foster's chocolate. Cafolla's or Morelli's ice-cream. Ballyrashane on a litre of milk. In the South, they're campaigning for people to buy only Irish products. Well, we can eat and drink our way out of this recession, too. Bate that into you.