Coming from an Irish family, before I even decided to study abroad I have been eating food that I thought the Irish ate on a daily basis. Primarily corned beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread (Irish and raisins in it). I was not to partial to either and I really had a misinterpreted view of what the food was like. Even hearing things from people who previously studied abroad spoke highly of Ireland in every way except for the food. Despite what I had heard, I wanted to give the food a chance for myself and fully indulge myself on what the Irish eat traditionally. I was in for a very pleasant surprise when I arrived in Dublin and started eating the traditional Irish food and “pub grub”. It turns out that a lot of the food are sandwiches, soups, and stews. I was soon eager to try the soups and stews although it was hard ordering something new on a menu, and not defaulting to something as easy as a burger with chips (fries) on the side. Although I am glad I ventured out because I could not be more satisfied with the outcome. One particular stew that I liked, was the Guinness pie which came with mash potatoes was extremely delicious. It had chunks of steak with warm vegetables inside all smothered in a gravy with mash potatoes on the side. It was unlike anything I had ever tasted in the United States and it almost tasted more traditional than anything that I had eaten in the United States. Another new favorite meal of mine has become a sandwich with chips (fries) with a soup on the side. The soup I especially like here is a potato with cheese and other vegetables in it. The home made taste assures that you that it is a great cup of soup. Another major component of the Irish’s diet is sea food. Many different types of fish plain, in stews, or even soups are served. Fish and chip places are all over the city and is a vital part of what Irish people eat. I have yet to try any because I am not a big fish person but I feel I must before I leave the country to fully say I indulged in the Irish culture, and at least give fish and chips a try once.
Coming to Ireland I was also concerned with what kind of food people can get “on the go” and quick things. A lot of the little shops sell hot sandwiches usually that comes with chips and a drink for a discounted price. I have been extremely happy with this and each shop has something unique with their sandwich. I have also grown very fond of an extremely small pie shop close to one of my buildings that I have class in. These pies are not what we think of in the United States but are pies containing meat, gravy, and vegetables that is easy to eat on the go. Pies are something that I am truly going to miss, they are cheap at the shop too, being able to get a pie and drink for 5 euro.
I have also learned to stop trying to order things that would be good in the United States, thinking they would be just as good in Ireland. I have caved a few times and ordered chicken wings and nachos and places that offer them, and I have to say they aren’t bad but nothing like what I am used to in the United States. I also have to say although I have been accustomed to almost everything in Dublin, there are certain foods that I will never not miss. I often crave a Chicago style slice of pizza, Italian beef, or hot dog. Although I miss them, this experience is definitely worth the wait. It has been truly different throwing yourself into a whole culture of food and completely changing your diet. Two and a half months ago I had no idea what to order on a menu from anywhere (not knowing what was good and what wasn’t). Today, it has become just as easy as ordering basket of cheese curds from the Abbey.
Matt Dunne is studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland, with the Foundation for International Education (FIE).