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Food & Culture: Ireland

It's March and you know what that means ... St. Patrick's Day! Sure, you remember to wear that same green shirt every year, but how much do you really know about who St. Patrick was, how this celebration came about, or the history of the food of Ireland?

St. Patrick is known for being the one who brought Christianity to the country of Ireland. He was born in Britain during the 5th century, and at the age of 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and sent as a slave to become a shepherd in the northern region. During these years of his life, he became devout in his faith and shared it with others, spreading Christianity through baptism and confirmation.

The first St. Patrick's feast was celebrated in 1631, honoring the saint. As the day fell in the middle of Lent, it quickly became a reason (or excuse) to celebrate during the period of abstinence leading up to Easter.

The celebration we know today is a product of Irish immigrants in America who were looking for a way to show their collective pride during the 1700s. As Irish populations grew in big American cities, so did the festivities and parades!

If you want to read more about the history of St. Patrick's Day, click here!

History Of Food In Ireland

What do you think of when I say "Ireland" and "food"? The kids in our house would probably say "Lucky Charms", but since the late 1500s, the staples of the Irish diet have been potatoes, grains, and dairy products. Many dishes are prepared with limited seasoning, really playing off of the natural flavor found in many of the ingredients.

Soups & Stews of all types (including potatoes, seafood, and meat) have made their way into the culture of Ireland as they are easy to prepare, made with common ingredients, and can keep you full for a long time!

Try this Irish Stew the next time you need a hearty, comfort-meal that will win over the whole crowd!

For a full-Irish meal, pair with this soda bread and apple cake!

Irish Guinness Beef-Stew Ingredients

  • 10 small red potatoes, quartered

  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can sliced carrots

  • 2 full stalks celery, chopped

  • 3 lbs stew meat, cubed (Note: You can make this stew “fancy” (eg. for a Birthday Meal) by using Sirloin Steak, which I use when it’s on sale; otherwise, general stew meat works great)

  • 1/2 cup flour

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion

  • 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce

  • 10 ounces beef broth (about 1/3 of a large box)

  • 1 (13 g) envelope Onion Soup Mix

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

  • 12 ounces (1 bottle) Guinness Stout

Tip: Some grocery stores will sell individual bottles, so you can purchase only what you need. Even if you’re not a big-beer fan (don’t tell that to your Irish friends!), the flavor of this stew is worth the effort!

Irish Guinness Beef-Stew Directions

Food & Celebrations

The most festive, celebratory meals of the Irish culture are Christmas and Easter-Sunday Dinner!

Families gather together to bake, cook and enjoy all of the festivities together. You can typically find some sort of soup, roasted meat, one of the million different forms of potatoes, and a classic cake (like this Christmas cake)!

If you're interested in learning more about all things Food & Ireland, click here!

Celebrate this St. Patrick's Day, or any day, with someone who could use some good food & tidings!

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