Going into this trip, we believed that the traditional food of Ireland consisted of corned beef and cabbage with some sort of potato as a side. Once we arrived, we found much more variety in the various stores and shops we found ourselves wandering in downtown Galway while waiting for our hotel reservations. All four of us found ourselves enjoying a food quite habitual for us college kids, pizza. Josh, Rachel H., and Bri dined at Apache Pizza, while Lindsey ate at Freeney Juye. We were surprised to also find pizza places found in the United States like Papa John’s and Pizza Hut.
As we wandered the streets of Galway looking for a good place to get lunch, we were given the task of looking at food prices in the small grocery and convenience stores on the streets and comparing them to similar items and their prices from the United States. We found that most items were about the same, possibly just a bit higher with exchange rate from dollars to euros. However, no tax is added to the total of your food purchase in Ireland, unlike the United States. We believe that the tax is already included in the price shown on the shelves or on the menu.
The biggest differences we found between the U.S. and Ireland were in the actual products themselves. We found ourselves surrounded with products that looked very similar but had a different name and much wider variety of flavors. Items like potato chips, chocolates, sodas and sweets used the same designs we are familiar with but were being marketed under another name. One continually reoccurring example was Lay’s versus Walkers potato chips. Walkers has many flavors like roast chicken, smoky bacon, fish & chips, prawn cocktail and our personal favorite name, Cajun Squirrel.
Lays were being labeled as Walkers
These were some of the peculiar flavors that were on the shelves.
Sizes and shapes were very different from what we find in the United States. With Ireland using the metric system, all liquids are sold by the liter or half-liter; no gallons or ounces. Most of the bottles had very unusual designs. Most we taller, skinnier, and had some very special designs. We found the Fanta soda bottle design the most intriguing.
At the Menlo Park Hotel we attended a group dinner where three courses were served. It started out with three options for appetizers and then led to the main course where we had three different options to choose from. The hotel served roast loin of bacon, creamy chicken a la king, and poached fillet of hake. While the waitresses insisted it was called bacon we founded out it was more similar to cured pork loin. Overall we thought the food was delicious and was very different from what we experience in the United States. For dessert there was lemon and lime cheesecake or vanilla filled profiteroles. This meal was the closest to traditional cooking that we have sampled in our time in Ireland so far.
While we stayed relatively “American” and close to our habits today, we all plan on venturing out of our comfort zones to experience the more traditional Irish cuisine. We’re sure we will have an update on our experience later in the trip. We would love to hear any suggestions from anyone that has been to Ireland previously for good restaurants and pubs to try out in the comments below!
By Josh Harlan, Brianna Voelker, Rachel Hayes, and Lindsey Seabaugh