Irish Cuisine and Recipes
Irish Recipes and cooking
by Country - April 2004
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Ireland Speciality Dish |
Irish Featured Ingredient |
Cooking by Country Main Page
is an island situated to the west of the United Kingdom with a total coastline
of 1,448 km along the Irish Sea,
North Atlantic and Celtic sea.
Whoever named it “The Emerald Isle”,
certainly got it right. Its relatively temperate
climate and heavy rainfall together with its level fertile lowlands and meadows,
woodlands and wetlands makes for a lush
green habitat which is excellent for the growing of crops and grazing of
livestock. Its many lakes and streams plus its coastline further add to the
diverse local produce to be found there.
times, History and Influences on Irish Cooking
evidence shows that there were indigenous people in Ireland dating back to
the Mesolithic Period (12,000-4,000 BC)
when the peoples inhabiting this land were most certainly hunter
gatherers, taking advantage of the rich source of indigenous wildlife and fresh
produce as well as seafood such as cockles and mussels which could be easily
gathered along the coasts and fresh water fish from the many lakes and streams.
By the Neolithic Period (4,000 BC - 2,000 BC) the keeping of livestock and the
growing of crops were widely practiced by farmers. Oats and barley were the most
common cereals grown.
Celts (a people from central Europe of indo-European descent) began to settle in
Ireland from around 500 BC, many believe earlier. They were renowned for their
love of food and drink and everyday foods included pork, lamb (or mutton) and
seafood including whale, and dolphin. They used every part of the animals
including the blood, particularly of pigs in the making of Black Pudding.
Meats such as deer, bear, and wild boar
would feature on the menu of feasts held on special. They are also
responsible for the introduction of domestic poultry. By this time the principal
grain staples grown were wheat, barley, oats, and rye.
main method of cooking food was long and slow in a large pot or cauldron or on
spits over an open fire. This cauldron was also sometimes used as a crude type
of oven, sometimes being turned upside down over hot stones or the cooling
came The Vikings (c794 AD) who introduced more complex sea fishing techniques,
enhancing and enlarging on the seafood consumed, but it was probably the
arrival of the Anglo Normans around the 12th century AD who had a more profound
influence on Irish cuisine. Not only did they introduce many vegetables and
herbs from the Mediterranean, but also the all-important
Potato in the 16th century, which was
to become an important staple
in the diet, particularly of rural Ireland. Unfortunately, so much so that
The Potato Blight of 1845 made famine and the death of many unavoidable.
interesting to note that cattle wasn’t always slaughtered for its meat, butused for dairy
purposes. This can be explained by the fact that a man’s wealth was judged by
the amount of cattle he owned.
Day Irish Cuisine
most people consider to be today’s traditional Irish cuisine originated in the
kitchens of the farmers of the past, not from the nobles or gentry. It is good,
wholesome food made from locally grown/reared produce. Ireland’s lack of
natural (industrial) resources back
in the late 1800’s meant that, unlike much of the rest of western Europe, its
agricultural practices remained in tact, thus
preserving a unique culinary identity.
still feature prominently in
today’s diet and old time recipes like Irish Stew and Dublin Coddle
remain firm favourites. Lamb and pork or bacon are still popular meats as well
as fish such as salmon and shellfish.
Full Irish Breakfast (very similar an English breakfast) consists of bacon
rashers, eggs, sausages, baked tomatoes, mushrooms, white pudding, black
pudding, fresh fruit, toast or scones with butter and marmalade. In Northern
Ireland (still part of the UK) they add fried potatoes or Potato Farl to it and call it an
'Ulster Fry' .
in rural Ireland is usually the
largest meal of the day consisting of meat with vegetables and potatoes although
most city dwellers would substitute this with sandwiches and/or soup and have
their main meal in the evening. The Irish are also famous for their soda bread
and teatime favourites such as barm-brack and boxty bread, not to mention
Guinness and whiskey….both of which are excellent when used in certain dishes.
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