Ask an American to name a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish, and they’ll likely answer with “corned beef and cabbage.” Although technically not incorrect, this meal is generally limited to Irish-Americans who moved to the States, and not the folks that still resided in the motherland. This is because beef was long-considered a luxury item in Ireland, and thus wasn’t consumed very often. When Irish immigrants arrived in America, beef (including corned beef, thanks to its popularity in the community) was plentiful, and soon became a signature dish.
So what do the Irish eat on St. Patty’s Day? (Please note, “Lucky Charms” is not an acceptable answer.)
When our friends across the pond awake on St. Patty’s Day, they’ll likely start the day with a traditional Irish breakfast of fresh eggs (normally fried), along with sausage, bacon, grilled tomatoes, black pudding, white pudding, mushrooms, and Irish brown bread. The bacon served in Ireland is generally back bacon, which is thicker and meatier than the kind sold in America, and more akin to ham or Canadian bacon. Black pudding is actually blood sausage, a European staple made of pork fat or beef suet, pork blood, and oatmeal. White pudding is similar, but does not include blood. Buttery scones are popular as well, but hold the coffee; the Irish are much more likely to go for tea.
Lunch and Dinner
After all the festivities of the day — including parades, dancing, music, and religious services — families will usually return home for a large meal. Nine times out of 10, this will feature leg of lamb, probably roasted in the oven with rosemary and garlic. It could also include shepherd’s pie, or even smoked salmon — though that’s more of a snack. Of course, potatoes are customary on the side (this one’s not just a stereotype), sometimes as soup with bacon, or alongside root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and pretty much anything else they can boil the heck out of. Potatoes can also be served mashed or roasted too, of course. For greens, peas and broccoli are the Irish standards.
Families might serve soda bread too, but don’t expect to find raisins or caraway seeds in them. Although still very tasty, the authentic version does not contain these ingredients. When they do appear, the Irish would call the bread loaf a “spotted dog.”
For the most important meal of the day (sorry, breakfast), Irish people will traditionally satisfy their sweet tooth with a hot apple tart served with custard and cream, but a variety of cakes are served too.
Oh, and before we forget, apparently beer is quite popular in Ireland as well. So they might have a pint of Guinness at some point during the day. Maybe two.