"Ireland is a great country. It is called the Emerald Isle. The metropolitan government, after centuries of strangling it, has laid it waste. It's now an untilled field. The government has sowed hunger, syphilis, superstition, and alcoholism there; puritans, Jesuits, and bigots have sprung up.
"Proverbially and by nature our peasants walk in their sleep, closely resembling fakirs in their froglike and renunciatory sterility. I think they are the one people who, when they are hungry, eat symbolically. Do you know what it means to eat symbolically? I'll clear it up for you in no time; the peasant family, a big roomful of them, sit around a rustic table as if it were an altar. In the middle of the table, suspended on a string from the ceiling, is a herring which could feed the lot of them. The headman arms himself with a potato. Then with it he makes the sign of the cross (my Tuscan friends say 'He makes the big cross') high up on the back of the fish instead of just rubbing it as any hypocrite would do. This is the signal, and after him, hieratically, each member of the family performs this same trick so that at the end the members, that is to say the diners, find themselves contemplating a potato in their hands, and the herring, if it doesn't get eaten by the cat, or rot, is destined to be mummified for posterity. This dish is called the indicated herring. The peasants are gluttons for it, and stuff their bellies full."
– from James Joyce’s course material, used while teaching English to Berlitz students in Trieste, in 1906. From Richard Ellman’s James Joyce, p. 217.