Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated October 9, 2020)
Irish cooking, according to some, is rather simplistic in its approach. However, this is usually said by those who do not really enjoy the great taste of a home cooked meal. After all, that is what the cornerstone of Irish cooking really is, home and hearth. This is in large part a reflection of the history of Ireland. Because of the many different famines, and other culinary difficulties that Ireland has experienced throughout its history, a tradition of keeping meals simple arose.
In Irish cooking the primary ingredients are going to be lamb, pork, rich creams, and seafood. Beef, though used in Irish cooking, was often reserved for wealthier families. With the introduction of the potato in the middle of the sixteenth century, a new staple crop was introduced. The main reason for this is that the potato is relatively cheap to purchase, and easy to grow. This meant that for relatively little money a family could grow and sustain their own food supplies without to much of a problem. That is, until the Great Potato Famine that raged from the year 1845 until the year 1849. Even now potatoes are considered a main ingredient of "traditional" Irish cooking. Since that time, the stews and other culinary staples which came into prominence at that time are still somewhat referred to as "famine foods."
Some of the most well known examples of Irish cuisine are things like Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage, soda bread, shepherd's pie, and the Irish Breakfast. The Irish breakfast, traditionally, has items such as black and white pudding, fried tomatoes, bacon, eggs, and fried potato slices. In fact, the argument could be made that in Irish cooking, if it isn't boiled, then it is fried.
If you are wanting to cook in the Irish tradition, then there are really only a few things that you need to keep in mind. First, that Irish cooking is designed to be rather straight forward, in an almost "make-do" attitude where the ingredients that are used are those that are most readily available. Second, Irish cooking could be said to be geared towards the satisfying, and filling. Finally, that Irish food is designed to bring the ideas of home, and family to mind. Some could say that this style of cooking was perhaps one of the first that embraced the idea behind "comfort" food.
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