World class cuisine may not be the first or even the third thing that comes to mind when we think of Ireland – in fact, it may not occur to us at all. Behind leprechauns, pots of gold, four leaf clovers and the color green, traditional Irish eats haven’t typically made the shortlist on the Emerald Isle – until now. James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year, The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews, is making us think again about the quality of food coming from Irish kitchens.
While the “enlightened” food world is buzzing with the push to return to our roots of farm to table eating, Ireland never left the fields. Those green fields, watered by plentiful rainfall, are key to the creamy butters and artisanal cheeses produced from the milk of all those grass eating cows and sheep. Add to those dairy products the variety of seafood available from pristine Irish waters, the array of seasonal produce, the specialty meats and fowl, the fresh organic eggs – well, we get the picture. Raw ingredients fit for the best feast, and an increasing number of cooks who know exactly what to do with them.
The Irish themselves are rediscovering what’s been beneath their feet, out their back doors and under their noses all along – the best gifts of nature that, with wise stewardship, will be there for generations to come. So, it’s true – the Irish are most definitely lucky.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day and, in the words of Irish writer Jonathan Swift, “May you live all the days of your life”!