Saturday, April 01, 2006

This and That About Irish Cuisine

Generally synonymous with thoughts of Irish cooking, are things like
corn beef and cabbage, shepherd's pie, potatoes, and fish and chips.

Today, I'llshare some of the traditions we've observed along
with a
few differences we've noted in comparison to food in America.
Ready or not...

There really are a lot of pubs here. It's a pub-packed country. So,
we'll start with them. Apparently there are less pups per capita now
then there were at one point. I found a website that said "1838 was
the year when the number of pubs was at its highest. There were an
incredible 21,236 pubs in Ireland, which meant 1 pub for every 375
people -- man, woman and child."

There are a lot less now -- probably more like 3,000. We've only
been to a few. : ) Pub is short for public house. Does everyone
know that? It was news to me, and I thought that was interesting.
It makes sense. Here, pubs seem to be a center for socialization

and community.

Pubs generally try to serve each draft beer in it's own pint glass. So,
a Guiness is served in a Guiness glass, a Carlsberg in a Carlsberg
glass and so on. Allow me to give you a visual of that!

Carvery is the food that most pubs serve from about noon to 4pm.
It's a big meal where they offer several main choices of meat, poultry
or fish. And several sides that usually include mashed potatoes,
carrots, beans, bread and mushy peas. Mushy peas are popular side
dish here. They're great. D and I had our first carvery two weekends

ago -- yummy stuff!

Some of the pubs have a bar food menu. In the states, we're use to
things like onion rings, wings, cheese fries, nachos. Here, bar food
mostly consists of baskets o' fried food. Chicken or sausages with


When the carvery is over, most bars with restaurants -- which they
call lounges here -- serve off the regular menu. They call that ala
cart. My observation is that most menus items seem to have some
kind of meat in them. I've found several excellent places that work for
me when I need a vegetarian fix. It's hard to find in Lucan though, the
city we live in.

I found this place in Dublin that serves Indian
vegetarian dishes. Tofu with peas and this amazing
sauce, potatoes with cauliflower, rice with dal,
and cabbage with carrots. Really good stuff.

They have a lot of fast food places called chippers. There you can

buy almost anything you could imagine, have it fried and put in a
little brown paper bag. Fried chicken nuggets, fried sausage, fried
burger, fried stuffing, fried fish. They add chips (fries) and dump salt
and/or vinegar on it, upon request. So heart healthy!

They also eat something here called
white and black pudding. I saw
they because I will never be eating such things! The white pudding
contains minced liver and the black pudding calls for -- no kidding --
pigs blood. It's served with breakfast and can be found at any grocery
store or butcher. When I see it, I have a little gag reflex thing that
happens. But to each his own!

It's not all Irish tadition though. This country has a little bit of everything.

Indian and Chinese are very, very popular. (You see them more frequently
than you see a Starbucks at home.) It's pretty good, too. The flavors in the
Chinese food aren't quite the same, but I can't pinpoint what's different. The
Indian is great! I'm a big fan and am so happy to have it as an option here.
There are great Italian restuarants and seafood places, too.

And here is a bit
of random food lingo...
To go or take out is referred to as take away.
Bacon is called rashers.
Fries are called chips, of course.
Chips (like potato chips) are crisps.
Mashed potatoes are mashers.
Cookies are called biscuits.

Soups, served with bread, are generally pureed and always good!

Ketchup is found in packets, as is mustard, in condiment bowls on the
table. I haven't ever seen a bottle of either. Also found in the condiment
bowl are packets of malt vinegar (yum) and brown sauceTartarer sauce and
salad dressings tend to be more mayo than anything else. And I'm not
so sure they use cocktail sauce at all.

They also don't have iced tea. Hot tea is very common though - served
everywhere and always with a side of milk and sugar packets. Since we're
on the topic of drinks, the coffee here is strong. I like a little muscle in my
Joe, but it might be a touch too strong for me some days. (I miss the coffee
at Seattle Espresso SOOO much - along with the chats Lindsay and I would
have while drinking it.)

A lot of restaurants just leave the milk or cream out on the table all day. It's not
always refrigerated. It's the same thing with eggs. In most grocery
stores, the eggs are found in a regular aisle, just like the cereal or canned

goods. Go figure. (That kind of creeps me out. Fortunately the place where
we shop keeps their eggs refrigerated!)

You don't really tip here like you do in the states. In a sit down
restaurant, you tip 10%. At a pub, you don't really have to tip.
We still do a little bit, but you can leave a lot less than we're all
accustom to. Waitstaff gets paid more by the hour here.
Also, you don't have to tip taxis, but of course, you can also leave
them with a modest tip. That's acceptable. Same with take out
places that deliver to your home. They're happy to accept a tip,
but they don't expect one.

The thing is, the level of service is totally different.
Servers and bartenders don't chit-chat. (There are exceptions to
that rule, especially at nicer places, where the service is also
stronger.) One thing I've really noticed is that they seem to want
to take your order really fast. They tend to try to get it at the same
time they ask you what you want to drink. And when you say you'd
like a minute...they generally return in about 60 seconds. : )
It's just a matter of getting use to it or communicating better. They'll
almost always wait to bring you the bill until you flag them down and
ask for it. Same with drinks.

When you order a pop/soda, they almost never come with bottom-
less refills...Unless it's an American restaurant. And at places
with fountain pop, like McDonalds, what we usually consider
a large doesn't exist. Our medium is there large. Our small is
their medium...But all that is probably a good thing! Who needs all
that pop anyway? I drink less because of it.

Well, that's about everything I can think of! It was kind of random
and chaotic. Hope it wasn't too hard to follow.
Happy eating!


Lindsay Teague said...

they have peanutbutter huh??? that's awesome! I loved this post! I'm smarter now because of it!


Trujen said...

I agree with Lindsay, what a great post! As I was reading it I was thinking, I wonder if you could receive an award for a blog post? I learned a lot!

Great Pics too! I love pictures of details. Things that not anyone else would think of shooting.