CARNETS DESCARTES

 Traditional Food of Ireland

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Par Marlene Bousquet 23/03/2016
 Traditional Food of Ireland

It has been more than 5 months now that I have been living in Ireland. If I would have to associate only 3 words or expressions with Irish food, I would definitely answer: Irish breakfast, junk food and Irish coffee.

             Let it start with the Traditional Irish breakfast, also called the “Full Irish Breakfast” or the “Irish Fry”. What constitutes an Irish breakfast may vary from a place to another but in general, here is what we can often find. First, Irish always do their best to choose local ingredients. You will be served a large cooked breakfast of meat (sausages, bacon or rashers, black and white puddings). Furthermore, you will have potatoes, eggs and vegetables all fried in creamery butter and usually, you have brown bread. Finally, strong cup of tea (such as Barry or Lyons tea) and orange juice go perfectly well with the breakfast. I really like the Irish Fry and I deeply recommend you to try it at least once.

             Now, I will explain you why I associate Ireland with junk food. In the main street of Dublin such as Henry Street or O’Connell street, you cannot walk more than 10 metres without coming across a fast-food. In fact, the city centre is full of chains such as Noodle Bar, McDonald's, Supermac's, Abrakebabra, Burger King, Eddie Rockets, Domino's, Boojum, KFC…It is part of the food culture.

One of the most remarkable difference in terms of food between Irish and French can be found in both capitals. If you compare Dublin to Paris, I would say that they only have in common around 20%. In fact, the past few years, I noticed that the new food tendencies (eating organic, light, healthy, “free gluten”, vegetarian or vegan) had a huge influence in the French catering industry. Restaurants changed their menu, fast foods developed a new approach, bakeries started to offer some vegan pastries, an increasing number of salad bars opened...However, in Dublin, it is the total opposite. Dublin is full of fast foods serving junk food. Even though, I am exaggerating a little bit, you have to struggle to find a restaurant offering something really healthy, or vegetarian or even vegan within in a radius of 500 metres in the city centre.

 These are all the reasons why I was not surprised at all when I read in The Irish Times that “Ireland is on course to become the most obese country in Europe, according to the latest figures from World Health Organisation (WHO) experts.” (Sat, Jan 30, 2016)

 Now comes my humorous story. As I explained before, all my flatmates are Irish which help me to be totally immersed in the country, even more in their food culture since we are sharing the kitchen. The first “anecdote” is the crispy sandwich. At the beginning of the year, I was talking with Hayley (one of my flatmate) about the specialities of Ireland and she suddenly opened her eyes wide as I did not know the “crispy sandwich”. Therefore, she started to explain me how important was the crispy sandwich, how popular it was among Irish people, and how tasty it was. This is the reason why I was expecting something really particular, extraordinary, hard to reproduce… Then, she decided to do one for me, so she took two slices of white bread, put some Tayto crisps inside and squashed the two slices. That was it... It was done... This day I realised why French were so well-known for their culinary art.

 Who has never heard about the Irish coffee? It is a blend of hot coffee, Irish whiskey and sugar stirred and topped with thick cream. You usually drink it after dinner and I strongly recommend you to have it once.

 To conclude, I realise why the French culinary art is so reputed, particularly if you compare to Ireland and its fast-foods. However, I really appreciate their breakfast and the Irish tea and coffee. A last point that I wanted to stress out was the Halal and Kosher food. The Jewish and the Muslim community are not as abundant as in Paris (which is well-known for being a vibrant multicultural capital) and you can notice it in the streets. In fact, wherever you go in Paris, you will see written in capital letters –HALAL- or –KOSHER- in front of a grocery or a restaurant. However in Dublin, I barely saw some restaurants or food shops that way.