A DELICIOUS meal in one of Ireland's finest eateries may seem like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but the time to explore the country's delicacies will come again, to be sure, to be sure.
Many of us may be dreaming of a trip to the Emerald Isle as we tick the days off the calendar during the pandemic. Here is a list of some of Ireland's many delicacies and some fascinating facts about them to whet the appetite.
Smoked Salmon Fit for Royalty
Cork's Belvelly Smokehouse is the oldest smokery in Ireland and is famous for its delicious smoked salmon. This delicacy is so tasty it was served at Queen Elizabeth II's 80th birthday. The smokehouse's Frank Hederman prepares salmon for many international top chefs and has been smoking the fish for 38 years. Frank recommends sampling the delicious delicacy with no lemon.
Ireland is home to the world's oldest butter. The butter in question was discovered in a peat bog by a turf-cutter from Tallamore County Offaly in the Irish midlands. According to the Cavan Country Museum, butter was an item of luxury at the time and was often used to pay rent and taxes. Butter was often stored and preserved in bogs.
Oodles of Eels
Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland is home to the largest wild eel fishery in Europe. The fishery produces a staggering 700 tons of wild eel each year. The eels migrate from the North Atlantic Ocean's Sagrasso Sea as elvers. They can be found in many restaurants across Northern Ireland and are served smoked, jellied or fried.
The Irish Stew
Most of us will have enjoyed a hearty Irish stew on a cold winter's night and what better place to sample it than its home country? Many people may not realise the famous stew of lamb, carrots, potatoes and onion was frequently enjoyed by third-class passengers on the Titanic. It was served as part of high tea, the second and final meal of the day.
A Literary Stew
Another famous Irish stew is the Dublin coddle, made with bacon, potatoes, onions, sausages, herbs and sometimes barley. This very Irish concoction was a favourite of famous writers Jonathan Swift and Sean O'Casey and was mentioned in many of James Joyce's works.
Cockles and Mussels
Feasting on mussels, cockles and other shellfish at the local pub is a proud Irish tradition. Dublin folk song Molly Malone pays tribute to this cultural pastime, telling the story of the short life of a fishmonger selling cockles and mussels on the streets of Dublin. Molly has been immortalised by a statue and wheelbarrow which can be found by St Andrew's Church on Suffolk Street.
The real fairy bread
Ireland is also known for its soda bread, made from baking soda instead of yeast. According to traditional folklore, a cross must be cut into the top of soda bread dough before baking to let the fairies out and ward off evil spirits.
How Many Blaas?
Waterford is widely known for its fine crystal ware, but foodies also know it as the home of delicious soft and fluffy blaa bread rolls. The rolls are traditionally enjoyed with ham, cheese and onion for breakfast, with more than 12,000 baked in Waterford each day.
For more fascinating facts about Irish food and information about where to sample it, click here.