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Eat and Drink

Irish food: Full Irish breakfast and more traditional dishes for St. Patrick's Day

What better way to celebrate a holiday than by eating?

As is true in most cultures, food plays an important role in holiday celebrations. And while St. Patrick's Day in America is largely associated with drinking beer and whiskey, it's advisable to take a moment and consider the foods of Ireland, too: they are very much representative of where they come from. Potatoes and chips (French fries) are to Ireland what wine is to France.

And let's get real, eating goes with drinking. And it helps you to drink more!

Padraigh Connolly is the owner and chef at the Dog and Duck in Sunnyside, Queens (thedogandduckny.com. The Ireland native opened the gastropub in 2011, having moved to the area from the United Kingdom in 1998. We learned a lot about Irish food.

Here are some of the traditional foods you should seek out this St. Patrick's Day. Or really any day, because they're usually always available.

A 'fry up' or full Irish breakfast

A traditional full Irish breakfast (called a
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

A traditional full Irish breakfast (called a "fry up" in Ireland, because it's all cooked in a fry pan) comes with sunny-side-up eggs, black and white sausage (pork mixed with barley or other grains, the black also includes blood), Irish bacon, baked beans, mushrooms, sausages and mash. At the Dog and Duck, the mash is served as a potato cake. While the dish is popular on weekends, chef Padraigh Connolly said that appetites are shifting away from heavy breakfasts and toward more healthy ones, which is affecting the popularity of the dish. But despite that, it's still one of the most popular items on the brunch menu. What about the tomato? Many full Irish breakfasts in America come with a griddled tomato, but that's not traditional, Connolly said.

Battered sausages

After a night of drinking, an Irishman or
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

After a night of drinking, an Irishman or woman usually heads to a "chipper," Connolly explained. Sometimes, a chipper is only open at night! At the chipper, you can order any manner of fried items, just the kind of foods necessary after a night of drinking. There are chips, of course, as well as fish and chips and battered sausages (pictured). Battered sausages are just what they sound like: a sausage that has been dipped in beer batter and deep fried. The Irish are fond of mild curry, and at the Dog and Duck, curry sauce is served on the side of the battered sausages, along with baked beans. Connolly said a spot in NYC that would be comparable to an Irish chipper would be a dollar slice joint or a kebab shop.

Irish stew

Irish stew is like a pot roast, except
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

Irish stew is like a pot roast, except it's always made with lamb. In this traditional dish, lamb is braised along with root vegetables and potatoes. At the Dog and Duck, it's served in the style of a chicken pot pie, with a pastry crust. But that's not how it would be served in an Irish home, Connolly said. It would just be a stew, with nothing fancy like a crust on top. He runs a restaurant, he said, where presentation goes a long way.

Irish soda bread

Essentially defined as bread made with soft flour
Photo Credit: Jim Lukach via Flickr

Essentially defined as bread made with soft flour (rather than hard, which requires yeast to rise) and using soda as a leavening agent, Irish soda bread was something all the Irish could easily make at home. Today it is made in bakeries all over the country for St. Patrick's Day, even Italian bakeries and others not associated with Irish food.

Colcannon

This side dish is made with potatoes, cabbage
Photo Credit: Vegateam via Flickr

This side dish is made with potatoes, cabbage or kale and often onions. At the Dog and Duck, Connolly serves it with leeks and kale. Colcannon, also sometimes known as "bubble and squeak," is one of the most traditional Irish foods. Potatoes are a staple food of Ireland and play a major role in nearly all Irish dishes. Connolly says that's largely because they are easy to grow, are cheap and can be used to stretch any meal into something bigger or more filling.

Corned beef and cabbage

Corned beef was not something the Irish ate
Photo Credit: iris via Flickr

Corned beef was not something the Irish ate until they immigrated to America, Connolly said. In the homeland, they ate Irish bacon, or "rashers" -- which is leaner because it's cut from the loin instead of the pork belly like American bacon is -- with boiled potatoes and cabbage. Both dishes are sold at the Dog and Duck on St. Patrick's Day, but only for the holiday.

Irish coffee

Irish coffee is not something you'd order at
Photo Credit: HeyMoira via Flickr

Irish coffee is not something you'd order at the pub, Connolly said, but it's very traditional to have it on holidays. "After Christmas dinner, definitely," he said. Traditionally it's a coffee with sugar and whiskey that's topped with cream.

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