A short guide to Irish cuisine

photo by Joseph Mischyshyn

Many might think that there is not big difference between the various cuisines of the British Isles, but they couldn’t be more wrong! Sure, there are some similarities with the foods eaten on the other island, but Ireland’s cuisine has neither the notoriety of UK cuisine, not its fame – it is virtually an unexplored territory. So what can you expect to snack on while in Ireland? Skip the fast food meals that you can find anywhere, and delve into the flavorful world of Irish foods. So to start you off, here is a short guide to Irish cuisine.

Like in the case of other countries, Irish cuisine was shaped by the economic conditions in country throughout history. The crops grown and the animals farmed in different periods have all left a mark on what’s currently eaten in Ireland, and the region is an important factor too.Potatoes were introduced to Ireland in the 16th century, and they have quickly become a staple food – so many Irish dishes are based on potatoes. Ireland has been through several famines in the past, and many traditional dishes are still referred to as famine foods, regardless of how tasty they are.

Here are some of the most famous dishes you can find.

Irish Stew

The Irish stew is one of the heartiest, tastiest and most satisfying meals you’ll get to eat, and it especially great after a long bout of sightseeing or hiking. This traditional stew contains lamb or mutton, potatoes, carrots, onion and parsley. As the famous Irish drinking song Johnny McEldoo’s title character exclaims, Irish stew is one of the finest meals in Ireland.

Irish Breakfast

You can’t visit Ireland without tasting the famous Irish Breakfast – a breakfast that will keep you full of energy all day long. While it is similar to the equally famous English breakfast, the Irish version contains bacon rashers, sausages, fried eggs, white pudding, black pudding, tomato, toast and fried potato, accompanied with a thick slice of soda bread and a mug of very strong tea.

Skirts and Kidneys

This stew is sometimes associated with Cork, which was an important exporter of pork meat to Britain in the past. That meant that there was a unending supply of offal and trimmings sold to the locals at a reduced price. Skirts and Kidney stew uses pork trimmings and kidney, seasoned with thyme and pepper – and the meal is served with soda break to soak up the yummy sauce.

Coddle

photo by Nesnad


Coddle is traditionally associated with Dublin, and it was the favorite dish of Jonathan Swift and other famous figures. The coddle is made of layers of rashers, sliced sausage, potatoes, onions, carrots and sometimes barley. This semi-boiled, semi-steamed dish sometimes benefits from the addition of the bit of Guinness beer for some more flavor. This is one dish that can never be missing from a short guide to Irish cuisine!

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