20 Irish Foods Explained Just in Time for St. Patrick’s Day

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Like most countries around the world, America is full of Irish pubs, and in addition to beer and whiskey and the like, they tend to serve what most of us think of as Irish food — fish and chips, Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage, sausage and mashed potatoes. All those foods are indeed enjoyed in Ireland, but they’re only part of the story. 

People are sometimes surprised to learn that Ireland even has a cuisine. Certainly, its food has been often maligned. A seven-course Irish dinner, according to an old joke, was a potato and a six-pack of Guinness. The comedian Milton Berle once maintained that “Irish Gourmet Cooking” was one of the four shortest books in the world. 

On a more serious note, the most immediate association many of us have between food and Ireland is the very lack of food — the catastrophic “potato famine” of the mid-19th century that killed 1 million of the island’s residents, and sent 1 million more on a diaspora around the world (and especially to the United States). (Can You Solve These Real ‘Jeopardy!’ Clues About Irish Culture?)

Today, the picture is much happier. The quality of Irish raw materials is widely recognized. (As one example, Ireland’s Kerrygold butter is the second most popular butter brand in the U.S. today, found in supermarkets across the nation.) In addition, the country boasts more than a dozen Michelin-starred restaurants, and Tourism Ireland quite rightly celebrates the island’s food and drink as a major draw for visitors.

In honor of the forthcoming holiday, and in recognition of the quality of Irish food any time of year, 24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of culinary terms from Ireland, a few of them familiar but others not. Here, then, are 20 Irish foods explained.

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