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Irish Cuisine


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#1 IanT

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 05:17 PM

Wilfrid's quote from the Istanbul thread:

Well we could argue about Irish cuisine on a different thread. It would get a bit lost here. There are more Irish dishes than just Irish stew, of course.


My contention is that there is no such thing as an Irish cuisine. There is not one decent restaurant anywhere in the world serving a cuisine that is recognisably Irish. There are a handul of traditional "Irish" dishes - Irish stew, boiled bacon and cabbage, colcannon and maybe one or two others. An incredibly short list for an ancient country. No cuisine ever developed - people ate food to survive, nothing more. There is no historical tradition of valuing decent food in Ireland (partly because all our decent food was stolen by the Brits for 700 years? :lol: ).

Anyone disagree?

The development of cultures (food and otherwise) is fascinating. Why do Italians value food so much that it is almost impossible to get a bad meal there? But yet Italian cuisine has resisted most modern movements and has barely developed over the past 100 years? Why did a country as tiny as Ireland produce so many poets, writers and playwrights without ever giving a damn about what they were eating?? :lol:

#2 Tuckerman

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 05:18 PM

Why did a country as tiny as Ireland produce so many poets, writers and playwrights without ever giving a damn about what they were eating?? :lol:


Too busy drinking? :lol:

#3 IanT

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 05:19 PM

Too busy drinking? :lol:


Bigot.

#4 flyfish

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 05:38 PM

Why did a country as tiny as Ireland produce so many poets, writers and playwrights without ever giving a damn about what they were eating?? :lol:

A very interesting question. Most of the poets, writers and playwrights I know are obsessed about eating - also visual artists, but you don't include these in your list, I notice. :lol:

Do you think that is all there is to it - the lack of development of an Irish cuisine is linked to the dominance of eating only for subsistance? Was there just not enough of an upper class to kickstart it? Was it kept down by "the Troubles?" Are there the beginnings of an Irish cuisine now?

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#5 IanT

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 05:45 PM

Do you think that is all there is to it - the lack of development of an Irish cuisine is linked to the dominance of eating only for subsistance? Was there just not enough of an upper class to kickstart it?


No definitely not - the English have always had the most developed upper class of all and their cuisine is as bad as ours.

Was it kept down by "the Troubles?"



Well most of our decent food did disappear off to England for 700 years but I can't lay the blame fully on the English!

I think English cuisine is as bereft as Irish. There's a much better restaurant culture here (though only in London*) but that comes automatically with being a big, international megacity.

* Excluding gastropockets like Ludlow, Padstow and Bray.

Are there the beginnings of an Irish cuisine now?


No, I'm not sure it is possible to kickstart an indigenous cuisine at thsi late stage! Certainly the restaurant culture is improving (as a corollary of Dublin becoming a richer more international country) though its still absolutely rubbish. But none of these new restaurants are serving Irish cuisine (how can they - it doesnt exist :lol: )

#6 lovelynugget

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 05:49 PM

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#7 Carolyn Tillie

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 05:50 PM

A very interesting question. Most of the poets, writers and playwrights I know are obsessed about eating - also visual artists, but you don't include these in your list, I notice. :lol:



Except, I guess, for Jonathan Swift. Here was an Irish writer who wrote about eating Irish children, ooops, I meant food.

:lol:

#8 IanT

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 05:54 PM

.

#9 g.johnson

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 05:55 PM

I think you can pretty much blame perfidious Albion.

I don't claim any particular knowledge of Irish history but I assume the population consisted of a large, impoverished peasant class supporting a small, wealthy and, most importantly, largely absent aristocracy.

Cf. Scotland with its clan structure (even after the clearances) which does have a cuisine (based on fish, game, beef and mutton and everything oats).
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#10 Wilfrid1

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 05:56 PM

I think the problem is that what is eaten in Ireland is not classed in our circles as "cuisine", regardless of whether it's good.

Here's a slightly more authoritative version of the history.

Of course, it's not all good: "Rabbit and hare were sometimes boiled in a bath of rancid butter that contained about 20% water."
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#11 IanT

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 06:01 PM

Except, I guess, for Jonathan Swift. Here was an Irish writer who wrote about eating Irish children, ooops, I meant food.

:lol:


And I suppose Leopold Bloom did drop into Davy Byrnes for a Gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of Burgundy. There's a thing - was Joyce writing about an idealised Ireland? Could you realy walk into an Irish pub 100 years ago and get such things? Try walking into any pub in Ireland now and asking for a Gorgonzola sandwich and a decent glass of Burgundy :lol:

#12 lovelynugget

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 06:02 PM

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#13 IanT

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 06:08 PM

I think the problem is that what is eaten in Ireland is not classed in our circles as "cuisine", regardless of whether it's good.

Here's a slightly more authoritative version of the history.

Of course, it's not all good: "Rabbit and hare were sometimes boiled in a bath of rancid butter that contained about 20% water."


Its not just that its not "cuisine" (meaning a high end experience) its that an "Irish cuisine" (broader meaning of the word) doent exist. Of course Irish people always ate food and that article sets out what they ate but none of these dishes or preparations survived. No-one in Ireland (or anywhere else) eats those dishes any more or dishes/preparations derived from them. A tiny % of the food eaten in Ireland is "Irish" (the aforementioned dishes) - there is no Irish cuisine (broader meaning of the word).

#14 Tuckerman

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 06:12 PM

Beer drinking cultures tend to have less developed cuisines because beer competes with food for stomach space and breweries which control pubs want people to drink not eat.

Where Greece fits in there I'm not sure because it is a wine drinking culture with crap restaurants. I find it hard to forgive Greece for that :lol:

#15 Wilfrid1

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 06:18 PM

I think I disagree (with Ian). What is eaten by the Irish, outside of imports like Chinese and Indian, is Irish cuisine. That it differs little from the cuisine of England and Wales can't be helped. Fresh fish and seafood, roast meats, sausages and savory puddings, various preparations of the evil spud, smoked and salted meats and fish, cheese, etc. I wish it were something else, but it ain't.

Also, I suspect most of you Londoners have already eaten Irish "haute cuisine". That's precisely what Richard Corrigan has been cooking, since his days at Searcy's. His menus have always been liberally scattered with crubeens and sausage and black pudding and salmon and rabbit and crab.

Beer drinking cultures tend to have less developed cuisines because beer competes with food for stomach space and breweries which control pubs want people to drink not eat.


Not true here, where the typical "Irish" pub boasts capacious dining space. Ironically, "Irish" cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in New York City. More popular than curry, for example. And in this case it means fish and chips, corned beef and cabbage, shepherd's pie, the "full breakfast", and so on. Opening an upscale Irish restaurant in New York, serving a Richard Corrigan-ised version of that food, might not be such a bad idea. The challenge would lie not in the cuisine but in the branding: convincing people they should pay more for what they regard as pub grub - but that's nothing a liberal sprinkling of adjectives like "seasonal" and "artisanal" couldn't fix. "A new concept in Irish dining." :lol:
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If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.