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.
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.