Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

champ a simple yet hearty Irish dish of mashed potatoes moistened with milk and butter and flavoured with chopped onions or scallions or nettle tops. The popularity of the dish is reflected in the diversity of regional names, which include bruisy, cally, goody, pandy, panada, and poundies. (Lots of butter was used for pandy, and ‘a sup of cream and salt’ added, the intention being to make it attractive to children—but adults also yearn for it.)

Champ was prepared especially for the festival of Hallowe’en (31 October) when large quantities of potatoes were pounded with a cylindrical wooden implement called a beetle. Florence Irwin (1937) gives an evocative description of the procedure as follows:

The man of the house was summoned when all was ready, and while he pounded this enormous potful of potatoes with a sturdy wooden beetle, his wife added the potful of milk and nettles, or scallions, or chives, or parsley, and he beetled till it was as smooth as butter, not a lump anywhere. Everyone got a large plateful, made a hole in the centre, and into this put a large lump of butter. Then the champ was eaten from the outside with a spoon or fork, dipping it into the melting butter in the centre. All was washed down with new milk or freshly churned buttermilk.