We were at the Tigh Ruairi Bed & Breakfast Restaurant located in Inis Oírr when Nick enquired about dipping sauce for his chicken goujons. The waiter at the bar responded with “There’s tartar sauce on the table.”. I burst out in laughter yelling “Tartar sauce?” causing a number of the people to turn around and look at us while leaving the waiter extremely confused. This was only one of the differences in food culture I noticed while in the beautiful country of Ireland.
I tried to taste and give the food a chance to get the full Irish experience. While at the Django Hostel in Cloughjordan I had a wonderful sausage and pesto pizza which was easy to ask for. However, at several restaurants I found it increasingly hard to order food due to the differences in vocabulary when enquiring for it. The first experience I had in the country was when I looked at the bar menu and saw a menu item called chicken goujons. When I enquired for the first time the waiter said that they were breaded chicken breasts or in other words chicken tenders which I realized after receiving my meal. I also noticed that the waiters asked if you wanted a salad on your burger which was completely confusing. Salads aren’t served on top of burgers! They are a side dish to compliment them. However, they were not literally asking if you wanted a salad they only meant if you wanted lettuce and tomato on top. This was their way of conveying it which was something that I had not been familiar with.
Even though I have experienced many variances with the Irish food culture and my own. One food item I was very familiar with was the potato as it was and is a stable of Irish diet as it’s normally included in most meals. While here I’ve had it included in every meal whether it be hash browns, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, boiled potatoes, chips and potato wedges which I have had no problems with because I was used to eating it back home. Every time I ordered food I normally got chips or mashed potatoes as a side for the main part of the dish which was comforting and I enjoyed them.
Even going back to the mid 1800s during the Great Famine it was because of their love and reliance of the potato. The problem they had was potato blight which was an organism that infected the potatoes of Ireland. Two fifths of the whole country relied on this cheap crop as it was an influential part of their diet. It was crazy to find that about one million Irish people died.
Even after hearing about this sad period I believe that eating the potato in my opinion has brought me a lot closer to not only the people of Ireland but its history as a whole. After the conclusion of this trip I can definitely say I appreciate the diverse meals that the Irish prepare and eat on a daily basis.