Cuisine

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Abstract

Ireland has experienced much economic and social change throughout their culture. This article will discuss the foods consumed by the Irish and the impact that the potato had on their culture. The author will outline the stages of development from before the introduction of the potato to the acceptance of it as a winter vegetable. The author will also describe what effects the great famine had on Irish cuisine. The article will discuss the varieties of food, including the potato, eaten throughout the years, the methods of production at different levels of society, and a number of Irish potato dishes including boxty, champ, and colcannon.

Irish Cuisine

What could be more constantly connected to a culture than food? It is obvious that without food, we can not survive. But, food is much more than a tool of survival. It is also a source of pleasure, security, and comfort. Beyond that, it is also a symbol of hospitality, social status, and religious significance. What we eat, how we prepare and serve it, and how we eat it are all passed down through individual cultural generations. Ireland is no exception to the rule. The historical background of how the potato, among other cuisine, was introduced and utilized played a significant roll in the development of people's intellect, stature, and character. This paper will give a brief overview of the foods that are eaten by the Irish, as well as how some of them are cooked. It will also describe how things were before and after the potato was introduced.

First, we need to understand what culture is. Culture can be difficult to define due to such a variety of societal aspects, but our text book defines it as “people's learned and shared behaviors and beliefs”. As far as the aspect of consuming food, it determines what the people of the land eat, how they eat, when they eat, and the meaning of the food they are consuming (Miller, 2007, pg. 14-17). Through globalization and localization, cultures world wide have been changing gradually.

Little is known about the people who lived in Ireland for the first 8,000 years of it's history. It could be said that most of them were hunters and gatherers of food, however, there was also some indication that some of the Irish were farmers. Like any other country, the quantity of food that was available in Ireland varied with the seasons. This caused limitation on the amount of people that could be supported. However, change was about to take place. A cultural revolution swept through with the beginning of civilization. The people began to take control over their environment, in turn, forming small social groups; which aided with the birth of social organizations and the start of a government. With the current change, came the domestication of a variety of animals, collection of wild plants, and clearing of the forest.

Agriculture played a huge role in the lives of the Irish. Along with agricultural production, came the usage of modern intensive methods such as pesticides and fertilizer. Unfortunately, this seemed to cause a problem, due to the fact that the contaminants would run off into the water sources; causing problems with the fresh-water ecosystems. Corrective measures were taken, and agricultural production continued.

Irish cuisine, developed by the people of Ireland, was evolved from centuries of political and social changes. It got it's influence from the available crops grown and the animals farmed. Milk, cheese, cereals, breads, meats such as beef, pork, venison and mutton, and some vegetables formed the main part of the Irish diet in ancient days. Other food sources such as poultry, geese, fish and shellfish were also common, along with a variety of berries and nuts (Sexton, 1998). Irish food is most known for it's quality and freshness. When cooked, the food is normally bland, meaning that it is cooked without spices,...
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