Irish food????

Calf, taken 1989 outside of Athlone, Ireland – moments up close and personal with animals were common in my year there.

Part One: A Personal Perspective

Since our launch three weeks ago, the question “why Irish food?” has come up a great deal during conversations. And the tone is one of bewilderment. Americans have a somewhat negative view of Irish cuisine: bland potatoes comes to mind for them. So I decided to share my reasons for embracing Irish food and further our mission here at Irish Food Revolution.

Longing for Tradition
Growing up, my family did not identify with any particular cultural tradition. Our cultural history lacked the richness for which I longed and saw in some of my friends’ families.

Our family certainly never built rituals (always changing it up, we never did the same thing twice). The only moments I recall were the sounds of the Irish music my father enjoyed. So I latched onto this musical cultural heritage – starving for connection to those who came before. It is no surprise that I’ve spent much of my life trying to forge a cultural identity – one that feels right.

On a parallel track has been my relationship with food. Meals at our house were often a slap/dash affair. However, my fondest memories as a child are of my father cooking homemade donuts and applesauce made from the apple tree in the back of our house (a rare occurrence). It felt so special, and hidden in my heart all these years has been a love for slow food – almost without me realizing it.

One Step Removed
Over the past several years, two things came together: an identification with my Irish heritage and a love for the farm to table movement. I lived in Ireland for a year over twenty years ago and will never forget the glass milk bottles on the doorstep. Up until that point, I never drank plain milk; I always put in chocolate or used it as a vehicle for cereal. After my first sip of the milk in Ireland, I was struck by a taste that was full bodied and creamy – without the metallic after taste in the milk back home. I did not understand then why it was so wonderful. But throughout that year, I began to sense why, watching the green fields and cows roll by the window on frequent train rides.

After leaving Ireland, I moved to New York City and became even more distant from the sources of food. Food was simply something to purchase and consume – not meaningful or connected to the natural world. I saw cows back home in New Hampshire, but food felt one step removed from those farms and animals. Farms were quaint and nice to look at, but they had nothing to do with the food I bought in the grocery store.

After struggling with eating issues for many years, I now realize eating local produce and grass fed meats helps me to eat mindfully. Taking a step towards actual food sources has helped me reassemble the scattered pieces of my cultural identity as well. Cultural tradition and the farm to table movement have come together as an integral part of my life; Ireland embodies these two ideas ten fold.


Finally, in the past three weeks, I am reminded of the connections that form between people over food. Long ago in Ireland, a hearty meal was always good “craic” as they say. And when I visited again after many years, in 2012, I sensed a palpable change around the attitude towards cuisine. People are embracing the old ways of traditional cooking and recognizing how delicious it is. They are also updating old favorites in new, approachable ways. A love for real food, real people, and homegrown fare; the Irish are experts at all of it.

And after meeting people through social media, I see that the phrase “Irish food revolution” is definitely not an over exaggeration. The love for the land, farming, eateries, and artisan food production is inspiring. People have offered to show me around farms and eateries in Ireland already; this glowing pride has brought my own passion to the next level. I am more determined than ever to share this exciting country and its lovely cuisine.

In honor of my newfound connections on Twitter, I must dedicate this blog post to some folks: Suzanna @ZwartblesIE, Annie @desperateAnnie, @the_greensheep_, @tasteofireland, @MidletonFarmers, John @irishtasteclub, Imen @ModernFarmette, @danoharafarm, Loretta @LorGMedia, Drigin @MsEatGalway, Rory Morahan @RoryMorahan, and the hundreds more with whom I have interacted on social media so far! May I connect with many more of you on this journey!