A true traveler knows that sampling the local fare is one of the best ways to get to know a country. It’s also an important part of the traveling experience – a bite here and there can open up a whole new world of flavors and foods.
If you’ll be visiting the Emerald Isles on a CIE Tour, consider trying the following local dishes to fully immerse yourself in the experience.
Some you may have heard of, while others might be a bit of a mystery when you see the menu. Many are usual tastes for American palates, so be willing to try new things.
The black and white puddings you’ll find in Ireland are not desserts. Instead, these are popular sausages. The white pudding is a mix of oatmeal, pork and spices; while the black pudding is similar but has blood added for flavoring and coloring.
The traditional Irish breakfast is a hearty one that a farmer or laborer would have indulged in before a hard day of work. Today, you can enjoy a slightly lighter version in local restaurants.
So what does this breakfast consist of? Typically, it would include black and/or white pudding, eggs, baked beans and bacon that has been fried in Irish butter until it was done but not crispy. Served alongside toasted Irish brown bread along with fried tomatoes.
To wash it all down? Delicious Irish tea, of course.
The black and white puddings you'll find in Ireland are not desserts
Potatoes have long been a staple in Ireland, so it’s not surprising that two of Ireland’s most popular dishes are related to this starchy tuber. Colcannon is a mashed potato dish that has cabbage added to it. Champ is another mashed potato dish, but it contains scallions or green onions that have been cooked and softened in milk. Both are warm comfort foods that are perfect for a cold or rainy evening.
Irish stew is another dish that will warm your stomach and soul on a cold day.
Traditionally, there are only four ingredients necessary to make up this hearty stew — potatoes, carrots, onions and some type of meat. Although mutton was the original meat used in this dish, most people, today, prefer to add lamb.
So what about the food Americans most often associate with the Irish and St. Patrick’s Day — corned beef and cabbage?
You may be surprised to learn that it’s not traditionally eaten on St. Patrick’s Day in the Emerald Isles. Instead, the Irish enjoy boiled bacon, potatoes and cabbage. In fact, a national food survey discovered it was Ireland’s favorite meal.
It’s not traditionally eaten on St. Patrick's Day in the Emerald Isles
Some people describe this potato dish as a pancake; while others consider it more a dumpling. Either way, boxty is an old Irish recipe that makes use of leftover potatoes.
To make this dish, grated raw potatoes are mixed with mashed potatoes, flour, milk, eggs and a few other ingredients. The mixture can then be cooked in a variety of ways, including pan frying, boiling like a dumpling or it can also be baked in an oven and sliced. There are even a couple of restaurants in Dublin that specialize in serving boxty.
This is a simple quick bread that — according to the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread — should only be made with the following ingredients: lfour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. Soda bread is dense, has a cake-like texture, and a slightly sour taste.
Bread cooked in the northern regions of Ireland have a cross cut into the top before it is baked, which is said to ward off the devil.
In southern Ireland, the dough is flattened and then cut into four equal triangles. These sections are then cooked on a flat griddle.
This hot alcoholic drink was invented by a chef who worked in a restaurant at the Foynes Airbase. One evening, a flight was forced to return to the base after battling a storm for five hours. Knowing that the passengers would be cold and weary, the chef came up with a special concoction that consisted of coffee, Irish whiskey, brown sugar and a dollop of whipped cream.
When one of the passengers asked if the coffee he was drinking was from Brazil, the chef answered, “No. That’s Irish Coffee,” and that’s how this special drink was invented.
It would seem almost sacrilege to leave Ireland without at least visiting a pub and ordering a pint of Guinness. First brewed in 1759 by Arthur Guinness, this dark ale is almost synonymous with the Emerald Isles.
One celebrated beer author even said that there is an authenticity that you can only experience by enjoying a brew “in its true home.” And don’t feel bad if you end up imbibing a little more than you meant to. According to some studies, Guinness may contain antioxidant compounds that may actually be beneficial to your heart.