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Cooking in Ireland: Beyond Meat & Potatoes

Noted on May 9, 2011 by Eric Skaar in

Written by Jason Broome: University of Oregon student interning with Urban Cafe in Ireland, a placement with Individualized Internships in Ireland.

First thoughts on Food

After spending all Thursday and Friday exploring Dun Laoghaire, I discovered several things that is different about Ireland than The States (this is how everyone refers to the US). First daytime cafes are huge here. They generally open around 8-9 and close between 5-6 pm. They serve breakfast but they are really popular during lunch and afternoon tea/coffee (3-5). They generally serve soups, sandwiches/wraps and are fairly inexpensive (5-10 Euros). Going out to lunch is much more popular in general because it is cheaper and the recent economic collapse is still on everyone’s mind. Menus are becoming much more exciting in these places with food items that are getting more elevated in culinary standards. For instance, my sandwich on Saturday was roasted chicken, chorizo, red onion marmalade and goat cheese on a toasted ciabatta roles and was delicious. I wouldn’t say that it can compete with the cuisines of Italy or France, but it definitely feels familiar with slight differences.

Local butcher/meat markets appear to be everywhere, even in the local shopping centers which are like our malls. These places take their sausages seriously because people in Ireland take their sausages seriously. However, grocery stores still have meat sections just like they do in the States. Meat in general is really important here, even more than in the States I would say. Something really exciting though is the immense selection of cheeses that even the most basic store has; it really puts America to shame. At my B&B I had this organic mature cheddar that was one of the best cheeses I have ever had. It was so intense and the flavor was unlike any cheddar I have ever tried. I want to try so many others and am going to probably buy a bunch of cheeses and just make a plate of it one night with my host mom with a nice bottle of wine.

While although I am somewhat reluctant to say this because I hate to confirm stereotypes, potatoes really are a big deal here. They have varieties that I have never heard of and they tend to find themselves into conversations about food quite a bit. My host mom made some amazing roasted potatoes that were unlike any roasted potatoes I have ever had, so I will have to ask her how she did it. Weirdly enough though, I have yet to see hash browns or any hash dish on a menu. Not quite sure why, but I'll look into it.

To read more from Jason Broome, visit his blog at http://cookinginireland.blogspot.com!

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