"The more pasisonate the cook, the better the flavors" -Charles M. Carroll

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Irish Cuisine

St. Patrick's Day is approaching! Although it is not a national holiday in the US, we still celebrate one of Ireland's patron saints. Though celebrations might have been different in the past- probably with more religious undertones- it's common now to wear green, shamrocks, and drink Guinness all night long. For the US, it's a celebration of Irish and Irish American culture.

The Chicago river is even celebrating St. Patricks Day.

In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, and as this is primarily a food-based blog, I thought I'd share some traditional Irish cuisine with you. Growing up, the only food that I thought that fit St. Patrick's day were the food that were green- naturally or artificial. But after some preliminary research my understanding was expanded.

Traditionally, Irish cuisine is simple with cheap ingredients. It reflects the culture, wealth, prosperity (or lack of it) of the Irish past. Most people didn't have access to exotic ingredients and a lot of people were poor. The people used what they could find and wasted nothing. Irish cuisine uses few ingredients and is marked by the potato and bacon or ham, I'll highlight just a few traditonal Irish foods:

First up is Colcannon, consisting mainly of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage. It's often eaten with ham or bacon and was used as a year-round staple.

Soda Bread. The Irish didn't have a lot of yeast so their bread has baking soda as the leavening agent. Again, the bread has just a few ingredients and sometimes they will make a variation which includes sultanas or raisins in the bread, called Barmbrack.

Soda bread with it's trademark "X"                 Barmbrack is now a popular dish for Halloween

We can't mention Irish cuisine without mentioning Coddle. It's more like a pot roast than a stew. Coddle is braised in the stock produced by boiling rashers (essentially bacon) and sausages. It also has potatoes, onions, and barley. It's considered a comfort food and was often served in the winter months. Contemporary dishes will often include carrots.

Guinness is also very Irish. In 2007, it was said that Guinness was the best selling alcoholic drink in Ireland and is used a lot in cooking. It is a dry stout and is marked for a "burnt flavor" that comes from roasting unmalted barley.

Other traditional Irish cuisine includes, Cottage pie, Boxy, Champ, Black pudding and many more.

Try some of these traditional Irish dishes for your celebration of St. Patrick's Day

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