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Food and Drink
In pre-Christian times the feasts at Tara and other royal palaces were known to go on for days on end. Power was expressed not only in size of sword but also in wealth of hospitality. Since then the Irish have lost little of their enthusiasm for food although appetites are now more moderate!
A unique pleasure of a stay in Ireland is enjoying the
unpretentious but delicious cooking. Fresh ingredients simply prepared
and served without fuss make eating in Ireland a real pleasure. The rich
pastures produce meat of the highest quality, so that beef, lamb and dairy
products, like cream, cheese and butter, are second to none. Among the
tempting dishes on offer are Limerick ham, Irish Stew, bacon and cabbage,
Galway oysters, sirloin steak and onions, game of all sorts, smoked salmon,
Dublin Bay prawns, spring lamb, grilled trout, fresh farm eggs and delicious
In Irish cooking the basic ingredients are so good that elaborate sauces are unnecessary to bring out the flavour of the food. The humble potato is appreciated as nowhere else and a plate of steaming, floury 'spuds' with butter, salt and a glass of milk is a meal in itself. Indeed potatoes are the principal ingredients of several dishes, which once formed the bulk of the countryman's diet: colcannon is mashed potato with butter and onions; boxty is grated potato fried in bacon fat while potato cakes are often served at breakfast but are delicious anytime.
An Irish breakfast is a substantial affair; fruit juice, cereals, bacon, egg, sausage, tomato, mushrooms, (plus soda farls and potato bread in the North!), wheaten bread, toast, tea or coffee. A meal guaranteed to set you up for the day. Healthy it isnt, Northern Ireland has among the highest rate of heart disease in western Europe. This is attributed in no small measure to the Ulster Fry, but dont feel guilty, your trip is short, just vow not to take the recipe home with you! Many pubs serve tasty lunches ranging from a simple sandwich to a full meal and this is a pleasant way to break up a day's sightseeing.
International cooking from a wide variety of nations is available in Ireland. It is worth looking for restaurants, which have an award for excellence, an independent commendation of good and reasonable value. In addition to table dhôte and a la carte menus many restaurants also participate in the special value tourist menu scheme. This involves offering a three-course meal at a fixed price and is usually excellent value.
Irish Drinks are numerous and invariably alcoholic. The most recognised of Irish brands is of course Guinness. In addition there are a great many lagers, ales and spirits all made and drank in Ireland.