Madeline Messina is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An Advertising major and a French and Francophone Studies minor at the University of Florida, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
In this week's post, Madeline delves into foodie paradise, telling us the history of Irish food and reccomending some places to eat.
Before I came to Ireland, I had a lot of people warn me that the food in Ireland is dry and bland. According to them, all I would eat were potatoes and corned beef. The only person who told me that food in Ireland is good, was someone who had been there them self.
Photo: tea and strawberry scones
So where do these stereotypes come from? In my research about Irish food history, I learned that a lot of the stigma against Irish food comes from the wave of immigrants during the Irish potato famine. When the Irish came in to the United States, they needed to support themselves, so many opened restaurants. Since they didn’t have much money, they used cheaper alternatives in their cooking, such as beef instead of pork (hence corned beef). This may be where the stereotypes stem from.
Photo: banoffee pie
What I have found here is that the myths about Irish food couldn’t be less true. There are many traditional Irish foods to enjoy but also a diverse range of dishes to try. Historically, Ireland has been an emigrant society, meaning that more people leave Ireland each year than come in. Nowadays, however, Ireland has switched gears to an immigrant society, meaning more people come in than come out. Because of the new wave of immigrants in to Ireland, there are now many different types of ethnic restaurants that diversify the cuisine, particularly in Dublin. You can find Korean, Indian, Moroccan, French, Italian, or else anything you can think of. Curry, especially, has made its way to being one of the UK and Ireland’s staple foods.
Photo: sweet potato and coconut curry with naan and jasmine rice
Also, there is a growing “hipster” population in Dublin. That means more cute coffee bars and cafés with traditional tea and scones, but also the trendy new nitro brew coffee and California-style eggs and avocado on toast. Places in Dublin that are like this are Two Pups, Accents, Cinnamon Café, and Brother Hubbard.
Photo: banana pancakes topped with rich chocolate sauce, mint leaves, custard cream, walnuts, dried raspberries, and rose petals
There are plenty of options in today’s day in age aside from the traditional.
But traditional Irish food also deserves to have some rumors dispelled. It is not remotely bland, but on the contrary full of rich flavors. One of my favorite traditional Irish dishes so far has been Banoffee pie, which is a graham cracker crust topped with whipped cream and bananas.
Other traditional Irish foods include Guinness stew, bangers and mash, and fish and chips. They may seem like basic offerings, but the quality of the ingredients makes them spectacular. Fresh cheese, butter, beef, and potatoes turn what is seemingly ordinary into an almost spiritual experience.
In Ireland’s foodie capital, Cork, there is a huge grocery market full of local merchants and grocers selling farm-to-table food, called the English Market. Here you can find some of Ireland’s best farmers selling the freshest of ingredients and prepared foods.
I recommend heading to this market if you ever find yourself in Cork. Take your finds from the market to Fitzgerald’s park and enjoy a picnic on the pond.
Cork also has incredible cafés and restaurants just like Dublin does. My favorite was Café Gusto, right in the city center. I ordered incredible mandarin orange French toast, and my friend ordered the avocado and egg toast.
Photo: avocado and eggs toast
There are so many excellent foodie experiences to have around Ireland, it’s impossible to try them all. But if you plan on visiting Ireland, leave your predispositions about Irish cuisine at the door and prepare to be pleasantly surprised. There are so many new things to try, so a global city like Dublin is a great place to start experiencing new things.
Madeline's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.