Oh, how did I miss this? I guess because I was moving. I'm one of those American Irish. But at least I am pure. I've only visited Ireland once, in the 1980s. On about the third day my traveling companion turned to me and said, "How do you explain that the food here is shit?" I said, 'How would you expect a starving country to develop a fine national cuisine?" "They weren't always starving." "Oh yeah? Go read history."
Thanks, FaustianBargain for an excellent summation.
The idea that countries or parts of countries which have been starving in the past cannot develop a fine cuisine is simply not borne out by evidence. Anyone who reads anything about cuisine in the Gascony region of France, or certain areas of Southern Italy, will know that those areas suffered starvation and privation on a massive scale in the nineteenth century, as did parts of Spain and Portugal. And that's just in Europe. Many of these areas have devloped fascinating and highly esteemed cuisines.
I have posted elesewhere about how countries where beer is consumed on a massive scale, as opposed to wine, had problems in terms of developing a restaurant culture, because people went out to drink and not to eat. Unlike wine, beer competes for belly space with food. The huge and massively powerful breweries ensured that the only food available in pubs was salty snacks designed to increase your thirst. They were not interested in promoting cuisine as it would have meant people drinking less beer. Since the pub became the locus of social life in Ireland as well as in many poarts of the UK, the breweries were able to exert control over the eating and drinkling habits of the local populations.
It was the breweries, not the potato famine or the British colonialists, which held back the devlopment of Irish cuisine, just as they held back the development of British cuisine in the UK and have held it back in Germany and in large parts of Northern and Eastern Europe.