What I Ate on My Summer Vacation, Part One: Blood (Pudding, that is)

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The family and I just returned from vacation in Ireland, a place generally and somewhat unfairly not known for its culinary accomplishments. While at home we range the globe at the table, in Ireland we stuck with the local stuff: fish and chips, lamb and beef of various cuts and preparations, peas, potatoes, very few vegetables. In the bigger cities there were any number of ethnic and otherwise restaurants to choose from, but that’s easy enough to explore in the restaurants at home.

To generalize wildly, there’s a simplicity in the local cooking, a homey consistency, a near spiceless comforting quality that was actually a bit of a relief from the infinite variety of flavors we eat back at home in Los Angeles. The nature of the trip (lots of family, not a lot of time for culinary exploration) kept our scouting at a minimum, so we generally ate what was nearest by.

Despite a roaring economy that’s put the average price of a home in Dublin at around a million bucks, Ireland does not yet have its own equivalent of modern english cooking revolution that seems to have put a gastropub in every neighborhood and hamlet of note in the UK. In Ireland there are indeed various organizations and designations that encourage the use of local products. There are restaurants that champion and give shout outs to farmers whose products they use. Still, given what we’re used to in the states and in England, it’s a comparatively fledgling movement.

None of which, in the end, my give kids a hoot about. All they cared about was breakfast. At every hotel we stayed in, from Dublin to Killarney, there were breakfast buffets of epic variety and scale (within the Irish range of foods): cured salmon, five varieties of local cheeses, soda bread slathered with Irish butter, porky breakfast sausage, the creamiest porridge.

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And, perhaps most enthusiastically consumed by the kids, black and white pudding. For those not acquainted with black and white pudding, it’s the traditional sausage duo that makes a regular appearance in the classic Irish breakfast. Black pudding is blood sausage, dark in color and intensely flavored and generously spiced with pepper and herbs. White pudding is made without blood and is a creamy white, studded with oatmeal. A far cry from the yogurt and fruit smoothies they start their days with in typically southern californian fashion back at home. We’re still a bit jetlagged, so that’s just the first of several reports on what we ate while away. Dear readers, please share your stories of what you and yours ate while on family vacation. And if you have specific addresses and restaurant names, all the better. We’ll add them to the gastrokid kid friendly restaurants of the world map.
—Hugh

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2 Responses to What I Ate on My Summer Vacation, Part One: Blood (Pudding, that is)

  1. The MOM says:

    We traveled around Ireland in early July, and think you’re right on the nose with the general assessment. All in all, I found the food to be rather unremarkable and starch-heavy (e.g. a lamb stew with potatoes that came with a side of mashed potatoes), and the breakfasts all blend together in one big blur of egg and pork products. We did try one Indian restaurant in Galway (on the recommendation of our B&B owner), but the food was so underspiced that we were terribly disappointed. However, there were two places that delivered top-notch food — the Farmgate Cafe on the second floor of the English Market in Cork and the mussels at Vaughans Anchor Inn in Liscannor, Co. Clare (best mussels EVER). But where did you find the cheeses??? I looked all over for local cheese and found very little.

  2. Maria Beatty says:

    Happy Birthday, Gastrokid!!! Thank you for keeping us inspired to do the work of nourishing our children with care and love. Many days, I am the short-order cook over the kitchen table, negotiating with my 6,4, 1 yr olds and my infant. “Just give the Tikki Masala one little taste, Lovey, please!” I love the siimplicity and the consistent posts. Here’s to more Dads lovingly serving their kids!
    One of these days, I plan to tell you all the spots my tribe loves to eat here in the Great City of Philadelphia. Look for it soon.

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