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Can you define what “traditional Irish food” is?

We went out for boxty a few weeks ago – never again. I was however salivating after reading this article, and only for it was after midnight, I’d have done nearly anything for a “full Irish” there and then. From the San Jose Mercury News in the United States:

Traditional Irish? Think breakfast

Some people have trouble pinning down traditional Irish cuisine. As with many cultures, the stereotypical foods that come to be associated with a people tend to outshine the more authentic fare that is more indicative of a culture as a whole.

For example, the Greek gryo or the Italian spaghetti are generalized “authentic” foods of these regions. Chinese should not be measured by their General Tso’s chicken, nor the Turkish for their meat on a stick. When it comes to the cuisine of Ireland, many people immediately think potatoes, corned beef and cabbage foods that have become synonymous with the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

However, there are many other delicacies that are representative of Irish descent, particularly the Irish breakfast. A visit to the inns or bed and breakfasts of the Emerald Isle will most likely provide a glimpse into the traditional Irish breakfast. Historically, farmers’ wives would prepare and serve these foods to ensure their husbands would be satiated throughout the morning working hard on the farm. This hearty meal is so filling, that often there is little need for lunch later on in the day.

Irish breakfast consists of a few different menu items:

Rashers: A type of Irish bacon that is more like Canadian bacon than American bacon. It is not cooked to a crisp, and is softer in texture.

Bangers: These are Irish sausages made of beef or pork, spices and rusk (bread crumbs). The bangers get their name from their propensity to bang or burst open while frying at high temperatures.

Black pudding: Americans think of pudding as a dessert food. However, pudding to the Irish is another type of sausage. This dark variety is made from oatmeal, spices and pig’s blood.

White pudding: This consists of pork meat and fat, suet, bread, and oatmeal formed into the shape of a large sausage. It is like black pudding without the blood.

Beans: Irish baked beans are similar to American baked beans cooked in a tomato-based sauce. However, they’re not sweetened.

Potatoes: Boiled, sliced potatoes are served with sliced tomatoes, all warmed in the pan used to cook the puddings and other meat products.

Eggs: Several eggs served sunny-side up and cooked with Irish butter.

Brown bread: This is an Irish soda bread made with whole-wheat flour.

This traditional Irish breakfast can be served with strong Irish tea. Chances are it will be so filling you won’t need much food later on.

What do you think? Is the dirty big fry up what best defines our Irish cuisine? Definitely no beans for me anyway.

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