Irish Food Guide
If you’re a meat-and-potatoes kind of person, then Irish cuisine
is just right for you.
Pork, beef and lamb are staples, served with potatoes or other
root veggies such as parsnips, turnips and carrots. When it comes
to Irish cuisine, it is all about the comfort food.
The potato was the main food crop of Ireland’s poor
during the sixteenth century. Potatoes were not only used as a main
part of the Irish diet, but also for feeding pigs. Because the
potato was relied on so heavily, the country suffered during bad
potato seasons, resulting in potato famines. Today,
potatoes still play a major role in Irish cooking.
Boxty, a potato pancake, can be found on menus all over the
country and pre-prepared in grocery stores. Potatoes are finely
grated, combined with flour, baking soda and buttermilk, and fried.
Boxty can be eaten with bacon and eggs, or alongside Irish stew.
No food makes you feel cozier than stew, which the Irish are
famous for. Potatoes are, of course, a main ingredient, and are
combined with lamb or mutton, onions, parsley, carrots and peas.
Today, stew often includes Guinness, a famous Irish stout. The beer
tenderizes the meat and provides a rich, malty flavour.
You can’t talk about Irish cuisine without mentioning cabbage
and bacon. It is a misconception that this dish is usually served
with corned beef instead of bacon. Beef was not always available,
so pork usually accompanied cabbage, with a side of potatoes.
Another popular cabbage dish is Colcannon, a meal made from
cabbage (or kale), mashed potatoes, butter, salt and pepper. The
ingredients are combined in a pot and can contain other ingredients
such as milk, garlic, ham or bacon.
Soda bread can be found alongside just about any meal. To make a
truly traditional Irish soda bread, you combine white flour, salt,
baking soda and buttermilk and bake it in a covered pot over an
open fire. Modern variations on the recipe include additions of
raisins, orange or lemon zest, yeast, garlic, sugar, honey or
whiskey. Try this version with cheese and onion!
When baking soda bread, a cross is cut into the top. While this
may have been a simple technique to stop the bread from splitting
during baking or used as a guideline for cutting even slices, some
say the cross was cut to ward off evil, or to allow fairies to
The Irish menu isn’t complete without a full Irish breakfast. It
is quite a feast! The traditional meal contains bacon rashers,
eggs, sausages, baked tomatoes, black and white puddings (an art
within itself), fried potatoes, fresh fruit and toast or scones.
This hearty meal can keep you going the rest of the day, although
nowadays, lunch tends to be the largest meal in Ireland, and folks
opt for oatmeal or toast and jam for breakfast.