A Change in eating patterns
Traditionally, the Irish start the day with a calorie-loaded Irish breakfast. This cooked breakfast can contain fried bacon, sausages, eggs (or boiled eggs), black and white pudding and tomatoes. It’s served with a couple of slices of home made soda bread. Dinner was the main meal and this was served at midday, with a ‘lighter tea‘ in the evening.
These days, eating patterns have changed a little, with people settling for a salad or soup with sandwich at midday, reserving the main meal for the evening. It is a shame as we all know that the lighter meal in the evening is the healthier option.
What do the Irish eat?
We’ve all heard of Irish Stew and have most probably eaten this thick casserole at some point in our lives. I can personally confess to having been fed a diet of this when I was a younger. Growing up in Singapore, there’s definitely no Irish blood in my Chinese family but for some reason my mother thought that Irish Stew was a tasty dish to feed the kids and we were fed this most famous of Irish dishes on a regular basis. Irish Stew is supposed to be full of goodness as the meat and vegetables are slowly boiled in their juices and then you eat the meat, vegetable, juice and stock. Our Irish Stew however came out of a can!
So apart from the Irish Stew, what else do the Irish eat? Irish cuisine has mainly been traditional and wholesome home cooked foods. The focus in Irish cooking was always to use fresh, locally sourced ingredients and to cook enough to feed everyone as Irish families were traditionally quite large.
Irish dinners consist of simple meat dishes and boiled root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, turnips, and parsnips. The meal may be accompanied by a sauce or gravy. Classic examples of traditional Irish cooking are the Irish Stew or Bacon and Cabbage, served with plain boiled potatoes. Coddle is a traditional Dublin dish made from pork sausages, rashers, cooked in stock with sliced onions and potatoes. It’s normally consumed with a good pint of Ireland’s favorite drink!
Whilst meat stews are the basis of traditional Irish food, Ireland does have quality seafood as well. With more than 3,200 kms of coastline, seafood is plentiful and smoked salmon, oysters, and mussels are all favorites. Smoked salmon with brown bread is a popular seafood choice!
For travellers to the Emerald Isles who don’t eat meat or prefer more spicy food, the good news is that Ireland is going through a gourmet revolution. A new breed of young chefs have come on the scene and are turning their high-quality, homegrown ingredients into sophisticated and unique meals, and new restaurants are popping up all over the place.
For a real taste of Ireland
However, to get the real taste of Ireland, having meals in one of their many pubs accompanied of course by a creamy pint of stout or two is a experience to have. Irish pub food have improved in standard and you can now get good hot meals. Pub carveries are particularly good value. Whilst I’ve never had a bowl of steaming mussels in an Irish pub, I believe it’s just as available as a dish of hearty Irish stew. You don’t have to travel too far to look for a pub. Dublin alone has some 750 pubs, each with its own special character.