A blaa is a doughy, white bread bun (roll) speciality particularly associated with Waterford. Historically, the blaa is also believed to have been made in Kilkenny and Wexford. The blaa, often misspelled as "bla" or "blah", is usually very soft and covered with white flour. This variety of blaa is more chewy, while the second popular variety has a crusty but tasty exterior. Blaas are sometimes confused with a similar bun, known as a bap, which is often served with less flour. They are square in shape and are most notably identified by the white flour shaken over them before the baking process.
Eaten mainly at breakfast with butter, they are also eaten at other times of the day with a wide variety of fillings, including a type of luncheon meat often referred to as red lead for its distinctive red colour. Corned beef is also a popular filling. The breakfast blaa (egg, bacon rasher and sausage) is more common than the breakfast roll in Waterford. Blaas quickly lose their freshness and are best consumed within a few hours of purchase.
Said to have been introduced to the city at the end of the 17th century by the Huguenots, the word is thought to have been derived from the French word for white, blanc. This theory is disputed because although white flour existed in the 17th century, it was not widely used until mass production of the industrial revolution. Another possibility is a derivation from the French word blé, which is used for certain types of flour, or the Latin root "blandus" which gives the English word "bland" and the Spanish word for soft.
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