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Ireland No Longer The Land Of 'Boiled Potatoes And Overcooked Meat'

Ed Ronco
Potatoes are seen being sold out of a van in Bantry, Ireland.

When you drop below the clouds as you fly into Ireland, it’s as if you’re looking down at a great rock draped in a velvet green blanket. The Emerald Isle is famous for those rich green hues, as well as music, poetry and whiskey.

But Ireland has a newer claim to fame, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley: its food.

The joke in my Irish family is that the Irish cookbook is really more of a pamphlet. But Brumley says that’s not true anymore.

“I mean, everyone thinks it’s boiled potatoes and overcooked meat, but you know, the slow food movement, which originated in northern Italy, has really swept across Europe and it’s come to the shores of Ireland,” said Brumley, speaking from Bricin, a restaurant in Kerry, Ireland.

Bricin proprietor Johnny McGuire says the Irish cuisine is expanding beyond the potato.

“Irish people now are eating probably more pasta than they are potatoes,” he said. “We ate potato morning, noon and night, but there’s a bit of a switchover, so there’s a greater variety of food we now offer.”

Sure, Ireland may not be France or Italy — “all the great countries that are synonymous with food,” said McGuire, but it still has a lot to offer. 

“Thank God we have green, verdant land and the ocean,” McGuire said,” so we have great meat, great produce.”

So is the food reason enough to make the trip? Yes, says, McGuire, adding it’s not just about what’s on your plate.

“Food is one thing, but you need the people as well,” he said. “You need good food, good company and good service … You can go to a place like France and you’ll have great food, but will you have a great interaction with your wait servers, or with the staff or the people? Maybe not the same welcome you’re going to get here in Ireland.

“It’s in us; we’re born this way, and we can’t help but be welcoming.”

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.