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Irish Food History

Irish food consists of more than potatoes


Farmer with handful of potatoes
David Cordner/The Image Bank/Getty Images
The foods of Ireland have often been described as "bland," primarily due to the prolific use of potatoes and cabbage. Potatoes came to Ireland by way of South America, and by 1688, they had become a staple of the Irish diet. The Irish refer to potatoes as "praties."

According to food experts, a diet of potatoes and milk will supply all the nutrients the human body needs. The potato has long been considered a staple for the poor. Throughout their often difficult history, impoverished Irish people have relied heavily upon it for subsistence. Potatoes contain plentiful carbohydrates, as well as some protein, calcium, and niacin. They are easy to grow and store.

In 1845, a fungus disease hit the Irish potato crop, causing a famine which killed millions of people and forced over a million to emigrate primarily to the United States to escape starvation.

Oats were also a staple in the Irish diet, to feed not only the family, but to also support the livestock that worked the fields. Oatmeal porridge and oatmeal breads are perennial favorites.

Ireland has now expanded and diversified its crops to include wheat, barley, and sugar beets, in addition to the favored potatoes and oats.

The fishing industry is also a major part of Irish life, and the Irish are fond of halibut, cod, trout, herring, salmon and haddock. Fish soups and pies are a large part of the diet.

More About Irish Food and Irish Food Recipes:

Irish Recipes and Food Terms Glossary
St. Patrick's Day History - The Whiskey Connection
Foods of Ireland Recipes
Irish Foods Photo © 2009 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.


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