MEALS AND CUSTOMS IN IRELAND
From a many centuries’ tradition of “having to endure,” the Irish have found some consolation in their “pint o’ stout,” their pot of potatoes, and probably even in the whimsical names lovingly given to the humblest of their dishes. Three meals a day is a fine pattern to follow if you can. But many Irish can make little distinction from one meal to the other so long as it is warm and filling. Tea, potatoes, and soda bread (made from flour, buttermilk, leavened with soda, and marked off into floury farls) may well serve as breakfast, lunch, and supper with only an occasional fish or two as a supplement. With peace and increasing prosperity, the table is expanding too.
Traditionally, the Irish like to awaken to a steamy cup of tea taken with milk and sugar. For some, breakfast may also include oatmeal, bacon and eggs, soda bread and preserves. Around eleven, most people pause for a “wee bite of pastry” taken again with tea and sometimes with coffee. The main meal often takes place at about one o’clock and may include a hot and hearty soup of fish and vegetables or a casserole. Either dish is accompanied by soda bread, potato bread, or potato pancakes. Irish stout or fresh buttermilk is the likely beverage, and a pudding the likely dessert. Late afternoon tea may include a few small sandwiches and little cakes or even a hot fish dish. The evening supper around eight o’clock is light and often cold, prepared from the leftovers of the noon dinner.