I've decided to do a "Best of Irish" theme for all evening meals this coming week. What are some recommendations? Lamb shank is on the list so far.
It seems Irish food tends to get a bad rap internationally. Do you think that's fair?
Historically, we haven't really had much going for us food wise (not to get into it but I think you can guess why), there's no real long-standing traditions or indigenous food culture there, though there are obviously a few exceptions. At least that's my uneducated take on it.
You've got boxty, a variety irish stews with lamb/beef/ale/stout, coddle, champ and colcannon, cabbage and ham, various chowders and shellfish/smoked salmons and that's not even touching the baking side of things, which I'm not really up on. I think we've appropriated shepherd's pie a bit too, even if it's not really "ours".
You could include locally produced food as part of your Irish theme. That would make a French dish Irish, right? 😋
Quite a few of my friends from overseas have been far more appreciative of and interested in trying Irish food (the infamous stew, cabbage and bacon, spiced beef, the many breads, the Ulster fry, I've even been asked about Cork tripe from an African friend) than I ever have. Yes, our food has been rather simple, for so many already discussed reasons, but let's not let our inherent inferiority complex cloud our thinking either.
Personally, many of our dishes wouldn't be to my taste, but neither would much of French or British food be either.
Oh, and does Guinness count?
A nice boxty or coddle, had a coddle yesterday, unbeatable, tonnage of ingredients , taste and perfect… I love a beef boxty, a restaurant near me makes the perfect one.
The reputation of modern Irish cooking is not as poor as it once was. Actually I'm not sure we are really considered in an overly negative light anymore at all.
There were five new two star Michelin restaurants in the UK and Ireland this year. Two of the five were in Ireland rather than the UK, that's quite an achievement.
In terms of what the "best of Irish" is, I think you have to consider the quality of the ingredients deriving from our dairy and herd. That's what we do better than anyone else except perhaps our near neighbours in the UK. Our seafood is strong also.
In terms of cuisine, traditionally we do peasant fare that I don't think is any stronger than elsewhere in Europe, and is probably weaker historically in that we didn't have as much options for acidity back in the day, the band of available ingredients was narrower in general. But in saying that, modern Irish cuisine might refer to that old peasant fare at times, be it the Irish stew and so on, but to be honest in modern Irish cooking we are using the same proven French classical cooking techniques as everyone else, and relying heavily on showcasing the quality of our ingredients.
Aimsir and Chapter One extensively use Irish ingredients but I don’t think either would suggest that theirs is “Irish cuisine”.
On a tangentally related note, I saw this thread on /r/AskHistorians there a few days ago (though it's a month or so old). There's a good long-form comment linked on historical Irish food usage going back centuries.