New Irish Cookery
As in original recipes from Ireland, and all over the world, traditional Irish cuisine was hearty and stick-to-your-ribs. It was full of fatty meats and gravies, highly caloric dairy products, lots of starches, and more than necessary huge portions of potatoes and breads. You have to understand some low points in Irish history to appreciate the reason for such heavily laden meals. Especially in the Irish rural communities, where hard physical labor and long hours were the norm, the people were probably lucky to get one good meal a day. They ate very simple dishes of meat and potatoes; lots of potatoes smothered in gravy, starchy vegetables and bread and butter, topped off by rich cakes and buttermilk. They probably thought that it was healthy eating but now we know that foods high in fat, cholesterol and carbohydrates are not a sensible diet. Maybe back in those days they could work off the extra calories but things are much different in modern Ireland.

New Irish cookery is simply traditional Irish cooking with a healthy twist. The days of lard used for baking and fatty meats with gravy are long gone. You can actually enjoy a dinner of bacon and cabbage. I have found that Irish meats are very lean. The pork is nicely trimmed and the bacon and sausages have hardly a trace of fat. Of course, as in all meals, moderation is the key.

The new Irish cooks prepare much more chicken, fish and seafood than in years past. Even though the Irish always had access to it, pairing it with heavy side dishes didn't mean that it was healthy. More poaching, steaming and baking is done rather than frying. Potatoes are always going to be part of the Irish diet but you don't have to eat the two or three portions that you might be served. In modern restaurants, they will ask if you would like gravy, so you do have a choice. You will also see more salads and greens nowadays. They will usually serve your meal with two vegetables but they do not add butter and condiments. The food in Irish fast food restaurants are just as fatty as they are in America, so they should be avoided most of the time.

The new Irish cooks will use the freshest of ingredients in their cooking because they usually shop daily. They have tiny refrigerators, so they don't do a big weekly shopping like Americans have become accustomed to doing. They have a scattering of large supermarkets in Ireland but, in rural areas, they shop at the local butcher, bakery and the greens grocer or farmers market. When I cook Irish food, I make substitutions to old recipes, and that's all you have to do. I taste test everything I make and most dishes are perfectly tasty and healthier than the original recipes.


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