Having given this matter a lot of thought, I have discovered that most of the things I miss about Ireland are food and drink related. Now, I know this must seem incredible seeing as how I am living in Italy, a food heaven if ever there was one.
Much as I absolutely love Italian food – all that wonderful fresh produce in abundance has to be unrivalled anywhere in the world – there are comfort foods that I associate with Ireland from my childhood and beyond.
This is my list and I’d love to hear if I’m alone in my occasional cravings:
Guinness on draught: never tastes the same outside Ireland, if you can get it at all. (At all).
Tea: good old Lyons Green Label and Barry’s are impossible to beat when it’s dark brown and in a mug. Builders’ tea at its finest.
Marmalade coarse cut: Old Time Irish on your toast with all the big lumps of chewy orange peel. I’m still desperately searching for the equivalent.
Porridge oats: ah! A hot bowl of Flahavan’s first thing is unbeatable, with a bit of sugar and milk
Soda bread: brown or white soda bread, round, with a big X cut into the top. Though my loaves were inclined to fall apart on cutting – perhaps because I was too impatient to let them cool down first – I was faithful in my use of fresh buttermilk in the making.
Tayto Crisps: what can I say. Cheese & Onion Tayto has a taste all of its own. Legend.
Black and White Pudding: my butcher in Gort, Co. Galway, used to make a black & white pudding combo which was seriously fantastic. Essential for a Sunday morning.
Irish pork sausages: big fat ones from the butcher or from Superquinn. Unbeatable.
Brennan’s bread: the soft white sliced pan made up into ham sandwiches with Coleman’s mustard. Too good not to pine for.
Marmite: as they say, you either love it or hate it. Personally, I love it on toast with a mug of Green Label (see above).
Cheddar Cheese; last but not least. Kilmeaden and Charleville red cheddar from the supermarket, remain lodged in my food memory forever.
Let me have your own lists of food items you miss. Note: you need to be starving when you comment for maximum impact.