The Tastes of Home
You don’t miss your water, ‘til your well runs dry.
And you don’t miss your favourite Irish foods, ’til that moment when you order a cup of tea in Berlin, or tear open a bag of crisps in Warsaw, and what follows is both a disappointing experience, and a reminder of the tastes of home you left back home. Food is the thread that ties our memory to home, wherever we may be.
We polled a bunch of Irish 20-somethings living in different European cities and asked about the foods of home. One of them, Conor Barry, from Ballydehob and now living in Oslo, expressed it like this:
“Crab never tastes better than after being caught in West Cork, boiled without delay, and served with floury new potatoes or tender brown soda bread and plenty of golden Irish butter.
“A velvety 99 ice cream cone eaten with one hand while driving into the sun in the direction of the sea.
“The fond memories invoked by the earthy aroma of a freshly cut unsmoked Gubbeen cheese are never quite the same after said cheese has been dragged around in a suitcase and stored in the freezer.
“The way even a simple toastie, soup, or packet of crisps is elevated beyond recognition when eaten among the buzz of a good pub, either beside a roaring fire or outside in a sea breeze, in the company of old friends and washed down with pints of Murphy's stout.”
Our poll group live or travel in different capital cities, from Rome to Warsaw, but these Irish 20-somethings are united by the Tastes of Home.
Here’s what they miss most:
Rich Tea biscuits; Custard Creams; Club Biscuits ("a good biscuit selection is high on the list”)
Sausages ("proper breakfast sausages. They don’t exist
Soda farls, brown bread and potato bread. And sourdough.
Barrys tea (everyone misses Barrys)
Milk (and especially Clóna Milk)
Really fresh fish
The Irish Sandwich Culture (“not a bread and spread culture” - "seeing a full supermarket shelf of pre packed sandwiches”. Deli rolls in every shop or petrol station ("a bizarrely unique Irish invention that holds up on the international sandwich stage”)
Lucozade (“I miss a lot”)
Crisps - Cheese and onion Tayto crisps… any crisps (“crisps is a big one, it’s only paprika-flavoured crisps here 🤢”)
The Irish Breakfast - (“I do find it funny that it’s basically based off the same ingredients, but yet a completely different variation: like sausage vs bratwurst, rosti vs boxty”.)
Orange Squash or Tinned Custard (“I find it’s the least expected things you get cravings for")
Black pudding ("not blutwurst, which is more like a paté tbh”)
Pint of Murphy’s
Irish Butter ("even the Dairygold here tastes different”)
High quality Irish meat (“there is no access to high quality and affordable meat like we have in Ireland. Steak is like, €20 for a very poor piece - maybe that’s why Berlin’s good for vegans").
Bacon (“especially brands like Gubbeen bacon”)
Irish microbrewery beers
Local pub chowder
Being able to buy good fruit and vegetables cheaply
Irish cheese ("I love a pungent cheese with a kick and have found the cheese palette in many of the countries I’ve lived in to err towards a blander style. It’s always something like a block of Dubliner cheese you really find yourself looking for.”)
PJ McKenna (full disclosure: PJ is our 24-year-old son, living in Berlin) sums it up: “Like, things do exist here, but it’s not ‘til you’re abroad that you appreciate the quality of meat, bread, fish, dairy and stuff in Ireland, and realise how unique the cuisine really is”.
With thanks to Arron, Caoimhe, Conor, Constance, Elena, Ethan, Patrick, Ryan, Samuel, William ❤️