Because I forgot my food post for the week and I'm still working on sharing Irish travel tips I thought I would make up for it by combining the two!
If you travel to Ireland you may be surprised to discover that Irish Stew and Corned Beef with Cabbage are not commonly featured on the local menus. They are Irish dishes, just Irish-American! Bacon and cabbage is a much more common and traditional dish here in Ireland. However, bacon over here is totally different than American bacon. Hopefully this does not confuse you if you read my post about The Great Bacon Debate. Irish bacon and rashers are not the same thing. Irish bacon is actually a thick cut of cured pork loin. Bacon and Cabbage is prepared in a similar way to Corned Beef and Cabbage, so it seems Americans have only slightly altered the dish.
As for the remainder of typical Irish cuisine the best way to describe it is like farmstyle home cooking, hearty and simple. Soups, stews, game, pork, an abundance of seafood, homemade brown bread, and potatoes done just about every way imaginable are the most common elements. This is not to say Irish cooking is limited to being simple, but if you do something well why change it right?
The food culture here is growing and changing. I feel lucky to live in Cork, which is without question the gourmet capital of the country! Check out my friend Evin's blog where she traversed Cork city on the Cork Gourmet Trail sampling some of the best cuisine available here.
Arriving in Ireland from the US you would not expect a language barrier, aside from the accent of course. However, open up a restaurant menu and you may question weather English is in fact the national language. Some things are obvious and I'm confident you'll figure them out on your own, while others may leave you scratching your head. Here is a short list I've compiled of typical Irish menu items you may encounter:
Boxty - an Irish potato pancake typically made of shredded potatoes and fried on the griddle
Black Pudding- don't be fooled this is not a sweet dark chocolate treat. Far from it! It is actually blood sausage.
White Pudding - similar to black pudding minus the blood, often has oatmeal and spices in the mix
Bacon - Cured pork loin
Rashers- Irish breakfast meat most similar to Canadian bacon
Courgettes - zucchini
Aubergine - eggplant
Rocket - Arugula. This bitter green is in just about every salad here.
Coriander - Cilantro. In the states we only call the dried seed of the plant coriander and the green leafy part is cilantro.
Hake - White fish similar to cod or haddock. This fish is available in the US, but nowhere near as common as here in Ireland.
Prawns - No brainer right? Prawns are shrimp!
Goujons - Chicken fingers or fish sticks depending on your protein.
It is also worth mentioning that tap water is perfectly OK to drink and there is no need to order bottled water in a restaurant. Additionally ice is not common. You may receive a few cubes in your glass, but don't expect it everywhere you go. Better yet, skip the water and wash your meal down with a pint!
Surely I have missed a few things, but what I did not cover I am sure you can ask your server to clarify for you. My best to you on your dining adventures in Ireland. Bon Appetit!