Ireland's Culinary Traditions

Ireland’s culinary traditions have been evolving since prehistoric times. Inhabitants in those days banqueted on the native mammals, birds, fish and vegetation for subsistence. It has been suggested that they must also have eaten many foods from the wild such as mushrooms, herbs and tubers, although references to these do not survive in the archaeological record.

For the first 800 years AD, little is known of the people who inhabited Ireland. They were hunters and gatherers of food. The food varied from season to season and this limited the number of people who could be adequately supported by the land. These can be defined as the earliest farmers and, I suppose, the earliest chefs!!!

In pre-potato Ireland, the most valuable and worthwhile cooking implement was the pot. However, the contents of your pot depended largely upon what was available in your locality. It was used to cook soups, stews, and shellfish over an open fire. Fowl, of varying kinds, was covered with mud and put directly into the fire to cook. Another ingenious approach to cooking at this time was to turn the pot upside down in the fire, surround it with hot stones and use it as an oven to cook delicious breads etc.

Meat was roasted in a similar way. It was placed on hot stones and then surrounded by more hot stones. The fat and cooking juices running liberally from the roasting meat would, in its turn, serve as a form of ignition for the fire and heat for the stones. Honey was one of the more popular basting requisites or marinates and was used extensively to intensify the flavour when spit roasting meat.