Everyone’s a little bit Irish when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, or at least they try to be. For many of us, that means cramming ourselves into the local faux-Irish pub, drinking overpriced green beer and Guinness, and eating a sad attempt at corned beef and cabbage or soggy fish and chips. But there are plenty of Irish culinary options out there that don’t involve corned beef, and we’ve tracked down 15 that you should really know about.
Irish cuisine tends to be simple and rustic, evolved from centuries of culinary heritage combined with the impoverishment caused by the English conquest in the early 1600s. During the Great Famine of the 1840s, many traditional Irish recipes simply died out, and only now are some of them finally being revived.
Obviously, the most important foodstuff in Ireland is the mighty potato, which was introduced to the country in the mid-1500s. It’s incorporated into many traditional Irish recipes; other staple Irish foods include pork, onions, leeks, butter, barley, oats, smoked freshwater fish, cabbage, and shellfish. Notice that corned beef doesn’t play much of a role in traditional Irish cuisine; that dish wasn’t invented until the late 1800s, when Irish immigrants combined their cuisine with traditional Jewish fare in New York’s Lower East Side, and it’s not commonly eaten in Ireland.
This St. Paddy’s Day, skip the corned beef and instead opt for one of these traditional Irish foods; some are main courses, others are side dishes or accompaniments. And even if you can’t get your hands on any of these foods (or are unable to make them for yourself), you can still impress your friends at your St. Pat’s party when you tell them difference between a boxty and a farl. Whatever you do, don’t forget to wash it all down with a cold Guinness!