About the food of Ireland

Collnaharragill Upper, Kerry. Photo by Ian Macnab

Ah, Ireland. You caught me off guard.

You see, this week I knew to expect the trinity… Potatoes. Guinness. Meat.  But, as an Italian-Hungarian-American, the last thing I expected to discover was that my childhood diet often beared a striking resemblance to that of an Irishman.

We ate potatoes mashed with carrots and turnips.

We ate homemade soda bread [recipe], slathered with soft butter.

We even ate roast lamb with mint jelly.

Strange. Strange. Strange. I must be part Irish. There is no other possible conclusion.

Then again, I have a feeling lots of Americans eat Irish food, especially on the East Coast.

Right, Mom….?

DooLough Pass Road. Photo by Patrice.

Truth is, I’d be happy if Ireland was my homeland. She is so pretty. So green and fair. Clearly her nickname, the Emerald Isle, was well earned. Yes. Her beauty is fresh; whenever I think of her I want to frolic and laugh and dance over the vibrant hills.

What can I say – she brings out the child in me.

A word about potatoes

Know for her love of potatoes, colcannon is the obvious Irish treat – a simple blend of mashed potatoes and kale. But there’s more to the Irish love of potatoes. There’s also boxty (potato cakes), also available as crepe-like pancakes  [recipe]; a hearty way to begin the day.

Of course, one of my favorite Irish potato preparations is mashed with turnips and carrots, as I mentioned above. Buttermilk is a common addition, adding both nutrients and addictive tart flavor.

Potatoes are also the traditional accompaniment to Corned Beef and Cabbage – which we (rather ironically) made when we cooked our Fijian Global Table, halfway around the world (except they use curry powder in their version – a nice change of pace) [recipe].

The other stuff

There’s quite a bit of simple Irish food – food you wouldn’t necessarily be able to pinpoint as being Irish. They enjoy roasts – roast chicken, lamb, beef. They even love a good slice of pizza – but a few crumbles of Cashel Blue, an Irish blue cheese makes it their own  [recipe].

Homemade bread is often Brown soda bread. I was surprised to find that they typically do not make it sweet and raisiny – as is so common in America – but more of a dry, wholegrain bread, good for cold winters, sopping up Irish stew.

Old Tea house, photo courtesy of Dalene and Peter Heck, of HeckticTravels | Maps courtesy CIA World Factbook. | Irish landscape (Windmill Hill). Photo by Crispin Purdye.

Oh, my goodness dessert

When it comes to dessert, the Irish have a couple of specialties up their sleeves. Yellowman – a frothy looking piece of brittle. Or why not make a Guinness ice cream float?

Then there’s Guinness Cake – a chocolate cake made with a happy cup of Guinness, often taken over the top by frosting it with Bailey’s buttercream  [recipe]. Oh my goodness.

Nothing can follow a cake like that.

Let’s just call it a day and retreat into blissful cakey daydreams.


  1. Pingback: Getting ready for Ireland | Wanderlust Megan

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