Recipes by Ethnicity: African Recipes
Costa Rican Recipes
Middle Eastern Recipes
United States Recipes
Beef & Cabbage
Roast Pork with
To a larger extent than most, the history of Irish cuisine is a history of the Irish people. The first known inhabitants of the Emerald Isle arrived around 8,000 years ago, soon after the retreat of the glaciers. This is the culture that was responsible for the large stone monuments and megaliths that dot the Irish countryside to this day. These stone-age inhabitants took advantage of abundant seafood on the coast and wild game in the oak forests of the interior. They gathered wild lettuces, watercress, berries and hazelnuts and even made culinary use of the seaweed known as Irish moss. A simple form of agriculture seems to have begun around 4500 B.C., when the cultivation of wheat, oats and barley was introduced from Britain and the continent. Domesticated animals such as sheep, goats and cattle supplemented the simple yet nutritious diet with milk, butter, cheese and meat.
Irish cuisine began its history, as a cuisine based on meat and dairy products supplemented with seafood in coastal regions and vegetables as a side issue but not as a major component of the diet. The rights of the people to utilise the natural resources of the land (hunt and collect wild vegetables) were jealously guarded by the population until the coming of the Normans. Around the 8th century the production of vegetables became the practice of most households, replacing the dependence on wild and forest products. With this practice the standard of living improved and the wealth of new dishes increased greatly. Animal livestock remained as the indication of the wealth of the population, coinage was not an overtly important method of exchange although trade in gold and silver was common. This wholesome diet ensured that the Irish dined as well as the most sophisticated diner of today and its only in the past 50 years that the Irish diet is beginning to return to what it was at the start of the eighth century.
With the introduction of the potato a plentiful and cheap food source, the population increased greatly especially among the poor or displaced. A family with 10 acres and four sons divided the land up into 4 equal parts, when these sons had children the 2.5 acres were again divided up making the land unproductive by overworking with continuous seeding and harvesting. This practice eventually lead to families having no productive land at all with yields falling and disease striking the crops. The potato by providing a means of population increase also provided for the disasters that followed yet no meal today in Ireland would be complete without potatoes. The diet and cuisine of the Irish was changed completely by the introduction of one vegetable and to this day the memory of the people of Ireland their diet their cuisine and their history is tied up in events related to that vegetable the potato. No other nation in the world had their cuisine changed so drastically as the Irish, with the possible exception of the effect of the tomato on Southern European cuisine.