FFWD REW

Don’t kiss me I’m eating

Many of us spend our St. Patrick’s Day with friends jovially downing pints of the famed black drink shots of Irish whiskey and in the most desperate cases green-tinged beer. Only after we have drank past the point of no return do our thoughts turn to filling our bellies with solid food. With a little planning however we can reinforce our drinking fortitude by indulging in some traditional Irish fare to accompany the festivities.

A deeper inspection of Irish culinary traditions combined with a look at recent developments by exceptional Irish chefs reveals innovative combinations of traditional ingredients and local products that re-invent the country’s trademark hearty fare.

If one wanted a truly authentic start to the day I would advise searching out some of Ireland’s signature dishes:

• Black Pudding — I pity the people who faint at the sight of blood because a moist and meaty blood sausage with the texture of chocolate cake and the depth of a great steak is one of the tastiest treats in the meat world. The Irish have been making black pudding for hundreds of years and have become famous for this breakfast specialty.

A combination of fresh blood combined with barley onions and occasionally scraps of meat and fat then mixed with seasonings is shaped into a tubular expression of meaty love that is the centrepiece of the traditional Irish breakfast.

• Coddle and Irish Stew — Irish stew and coddle are classic Irish peasant dishes which is often the best food. Coddle is a mixture of pork sausage onions potatoes barley and fatty bacon slowly simmered for hours on end that creates a warming salve curing all that ails you (or will ail you) throughout the day.

In comparison Irish stew uses mutton potatoes onions and parsley cooked low and slow over a fire to produce a stick-to-your ribs meal that satisfies any hunger.

• Crubeens — Like many places in feudal times the prime cuts of meat were reserved for the rich and royal therefore peasants could only look forward to offcuts and leftovers. Crubeens or pig trotters were often boiled and eaten by hand.

Leave those cringes aside and fear not this wonderful appendage. A textural mosaic of meat gelatin fat and soft tender bits melt together to form a hidden wonder. Really I promise.

• Colcannon — Although the Irish are inextricably linked with the potato the hearty root was not introduced to the isle until the latter 1500s. Once there however it was quickly loved due to its versatile nature and high energy.

Colcannon came about as the combination of mashed potatoes butter cream and kale (or cabbage) being both filler and a great alcohol absorber for all that whiskey.

• Shellfish — In modern Ireland seafood has become the spear point of Irish cuisine. Many top Irish chefs are utilizing the riches in the ocean by showcasing the sweet oysters mussels and lobsters that are found in the country’s territorial waters.

If you find yourself hungover one morning grab yourself a dozen oysters and a pint of the black stuff — you’ll be feeling fine in no time. If you’re not quite up to morning bivalve binges the Dublin Lawyer a mixture of whiskey and cream incorporates two Irish stereotypes into one rather tasty dish.

Dublin has recently become one of the most visited places in Europe. This might be due to the fact that a good drink is quickly followed by a simple yet satisfying meal. What better way to take in a culture that espouses good times than to raise a glass and eat some hearty Irish fare this St. Patrick’s Day.

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