History of Irish Cuisine

There are many references to food and drink in early Irish literature. Honey seems to have been widely eaten and used in the making of mead. The old stories also contain many references to banquets, although these may well be greatly exaggerated and provide little insight into everyday diets. There are also many references to fulacht fiadh. These were sites for cooking deer, and consisted of holes in the ground which were filled with water. The meat was placed in the water and cooked by the introduction of hot stones. Many fulacht fiadh sites have been identified across the island of Ireland, and some of them appear to have been in use up to the 17th century.

Excavations at the Viking settlement in the Wood Quay area of Dublin have produced a significant amount of information on the diet of the inhabitants of the town. The main meats eaten were cattle, sheep and pigs. Poultry and wild goose|geese as well as fish and shellfish were also common, as were a wide range of native berries and nuts, especially hazel. The seeds of knotgrass and goosefoot were widely present and may have been used to make a porridge.

From the Middle Ages, until the arrival of the potato in the 16th century, the dominant feature of the rural economy was the herding of cattle. The meat produced was mostly the preserve of the gentry and nobility. The poor generally made do with milk, butter, cheese, and offal, supplemented with oats and barley. The practice of bleeding cattle and mixing the blood with milk and butter (not unlike the practice of the Maasai) was not uncommon. Black pudding was made from blood, grain, (usually barley) and seasoning remains a breakfast staple in Ireland.

Black pudding, square sausage and beans

Potatoes form the basis for many traditional Irish dishes The potato was introduced into Ireland in the second half of the 16th century, initially as a garden crop. It eventually came to be the main food crop of the poor. As a food source, the potato is extremely valuable in terms of the amount of energy produced per unit area of crop. The potato is also a good source of many vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C (especially when fresh).

Potatoes were cultivated by much of the populace at a subsistence level and the diet of this period consisted mainly of potatoes supplemented with buttermilk. Potatoes were also used as a food for pigs that were fattened-up and slaughtered at the approach of the cold winter months. Much of the slaughtered pork would have been Curing (food preservation)cured to provide ham and bacon that could be stored over the winter.

Fresh meat was generally considered a luxury except for the most affluent until the late 19th century and chickens were not raised on a large scale until the emergence of town grocers in the 1880s allowed people to exchange surplus goods, like eggs, and for the first time purchase a variety food items to diversify their diet.

Continue to read this very fascinating history at : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_cuisine

Belgium: Pomme Frites (French Fries)

Think you know about french fries? Maybe you do, but then maybe you don’t. Yes, it’s called french fries, but that only refers to the julienne cut, not the origin of the fast food. Believe it or not, the french fry or more appropriately named the “pomme frite” has its origins in Belgium where it’s twice-fried  and served  in a paper cone with a variety of toppings including mayo. Watch this clip from the Food Network about a little place in New York City that is home to this well-beloved Belgian snack.



Indian Food Spotlight: Alu Ki Tikki (Potato Patties)

Aloo ki Tikki, Indian food, potato fritters,

Indian Appetizer usually served with chutney sauce


1 lb potatoes (approx. 2 large)

2 tsp salt

1 bay leaf

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 red onion

1 inch piece ginger

1 to 2 green chilies (or serrano)

tbsp grapeseed or vegetable oil

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tbsp chickepea flour (also called – besan, chana, or gram flour)

1/2 fresh lemon (1 tbsp lemon juice)

1/2 tsp garam masala

(chickpea flour)

3 tbsp grapeseed or vegetable oil*

tbsp chickepea flour (also called – besan, chana, or gram flour)

1/2 fresh lemon (1 tbsp lemon juice)

It’s a very simple mix of potatoes, peas, onion, ginger, chilies, spices and a touch of fresh lemon juice. To bind it all together you add a bit of besan (chickpea flour). Then you form it into patties and then fry.


Peel and cut the potatoes into about 1″-inch dice.

Then cover with cold water, add the salt and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down to a simmer and let cook until soft enough to mash, about 15 minutes or so.

Meanwhile go ahead and cook the peas.

Once the potatoes are just cooked through (soft enough to mash, but not mushy), drain and add back to the hot pot and set aside. This will dry out the potatoes a bit while you go ahead and prepare the rest of your mise en place.

To prepare the mirepoix, finely dice the onions, ginger and green chilies. If you like things spicy, add both chilies with or without the seeds. Now, set this all aside while you mash the potatoes.

To fry the mirepoix heat a fry pan over medium high heat. Once hot add the oil, followed by the the onions, ginger and chilies. et cook for about a minute until the onions just start to soften. Then add all of the spices and let cook for a few seconds until aromatic.

To mix the patties, gently fold together the potatoes, peas, onion-spice mixture, chickpea flour and lemon juice.

If adding the cilantro, finely chop and add to the mix.

To form the patties, take about an 1/8 of a cup and form into golf ball-like rounds. Then gently press them flat to form patties.

Up to this step can be done several hours ahead of time, covered and stored in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

To fry the patties use a good non-stick fry pan, if you have one.

Serve the patties either warm or room temperature with tamarind, tomato, or mint chutney.

If desired, sprinkle the tops of the patties with a bit of chat masala.

Heat the pan, over medium heat, once hot add the oil, followed by the patties. Once golden brown on the one side, flip and continue to cook on the other side.

Once golden brown and heated through place onto a plate lined with paper towels.

* Note: The amount of oil you use is up to you, basically it is just used for color. The more oil you use the more evenly golden they will be.

Serve the patties either warm or room temperature with tamarind, tomato, or mint chutney. If desired, sprinkle the tops of the patties with a bit of chat masala.

Recipe from Rouxbe Cooking School