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Background image The Quiet Man Cottage County Mayo.

Cooking in Ireland is regarded by many as consisting of plain uninteresting dishes, while this was undoubtedly true for the vast majority of the poor population, it was not so for the ruling minority at any time in history. In 1639 in Dunluce castle County Antrim a banquet took place consisting of fifteen courses, there was an unfortunate sequel you might like to explore.

Ireland's mild climate enables a wide array of vegetables to be grown, many we are familiar with today had yet to be discovered in early times, although no doubt the Celts brought with them many herbs Esc from continental Europe adding to those which were already here. Up until the discovery of the new world, honey was the only medium available to sweeten food, even then it was probably some considerable time later before sugar would have been affordable to the masses.



Tea is regarded today almost as a symbol of Irish hospitality, yet it too is a comparative latecomer, and initially it too would have only been available to the wealthy

Prior to the potato grain was the mainstay of the diet, with whole meal bread being made from ground grain, which could have been wheat, barley or corn. It was not until milling technique had developed to the extent of producing white flower, that Ireland's famous soda bread named for the inclusion of baking soda in it's ingredients.

Today the potato is prominent in Irish cooking but not to the extent it was in the early 1800's when the entire country depended almost entirely on it. Sir Walter Raleigh brought it to Ireland from south America in 1590 it was first grown at Killua Castle county Westmeath. When the crop failed as a result of blight which is said to have originated in north America, many thousands perished from starvation, and at least as many more emigrated, in the space of a relative few years the population of Ireland was almost halved.

Most of the potatoes consumed were simply boiled and served with whatever was available, often buttermilk was served as a drink along with the meal. An ingenious use of left over potatoes devised, was patter bread. Potatoes were mashed and mixed with flour to form a dough, this was rolled to about 10mm (3/8 inch) thick and fried on a griddle or pan

Read about food, fuel and free hostels in early Ireland.