Breakfast Traditions: The Irish Edition
The crack of an egg, the sizzle of bacon, or the sputter of hot coffee brewing all beckon early risers to start their morning. As much as the specialties and flavors vary, the constant theme of a good meal leading to a good day holds a spot in the hierarchy of morning rituals, along with making the bed or catching up on news.
In leagues of those who believe the first meal sets the tone for what’s to come, the Irish champion with their meat and potatoes-fashioned tradition.
Thursday morning, I walked down to O'Neill's Pub near Trinity College in Dublin for my first Irish breakfast. For the agriculturally-rooted country, the hearty custom stems from feeding farmers before a full-day's work. It varies slightly from traditional English breakfast and even region to region in the republic.
No matter the variation of meats or specialty dishes, tea is standard to start off a breakfast meal in Ireland. Irish breakfast tea is served hot with cold milk and optional sugar. To my knowledge, the type of tea is very similar to English breakfast tea.
After tea has been sipped (solving whatever problems could have arisen prior to the first meal of the day, as tea can) breakfast arrives. I hardly ate dinner the night before to prepare for this, because I knew there would be plenty. And plenty there was!
In the top right of the photograph, notice a grilled tomato. It was the "freshest" food on plate.
I tried everything but the mushrooms. I am not a fan of mushrooms, which is a shame because Ireland is known for producing good mushrooms.
What sticks out overall about the meal is the variety of proteins and potatoes.
Picking up my fork, the black and white pudding sausages drew my attention. The difference between the two is the black includes blood and the white doesn't. The blood pudding’s texture is a little grittier as well. I inferred from the accompanied links' texture that their sausage is more finely ground, and it wasn't as juicy as what I think of for most sausages, but they were good.
I was not given choice over how my egg would be prepared, but the yolk was cooked through — just how I like it.
Next, it could be asked, “What’s a hardy breakfast without bacon?” Bacon to Ireland is real Canadian bacon to the U.S. It's cut with fattier parts included, not trimmed like some Canadian bacon.
It could have been easily guessed that an Irish breakfast would include potatoes. In fact, there were two types on my plate. First was a potato cake, which is essentially a fried potato hash. Secondly, there were fried potato cubes.
No one falsely advertises this meal as a heart-healthy one.
Other Breakfast Fixings
Classic baked beans rounded out what was on my first plate. They were just like what you might find with traditional BBQ in the States.
As if the meal was not filling enough, there was toast with butter and jam on a second plate. Raspberry jam was the flavor served with mine.
I can see how this breakfast could fill a farm worker. It is not an everyday ordeal, that is sure.
To be honest, the pub provided a small option of the breakfast, but not all of the components were included. I wanted to try it all at least this once, so I ordered real deal. Consequently, breakfast and lunch were covered for the day, and I was content as could be with my fulfilled expectations for the hot meal.
Whether it be from biscuits and gravy to warm cinnamon rolls or old-fashioned blood pudding to potato cakes, the breakfast meal highlights another unique cornerstone of culture. It is a way to start the day and time to be thankful for the hands that prepared it — from the dairy farmers to those in the kitchen of an Irish pub.