The Irish are a hospitable nation who love socializing and good food and drink form part of this. They believe in simple, hearty (copiosa) cuisine with lots of meat, potatoes and root vegetables. (tubérculos) Visitors will remember the big breakfasts and tea and cakes in the afternoon, plus the salmon, trout (trucha), oysters (ostras) and a glass or two of a certain stout (cerveza negra) beginning with the letter G.
You cannot underestimate (subestimar) the importance of the potato in Irish history. It was introduced in the sixteenth century and soon became the most important crop (cultivo) in the country. But when the potato crop failed, poor farmers (granjeros) died of famine (hambruna) and millions more emigrated to the United States. It is eaten almost every day, and used in cakes too. It is an essential ingredient in classic stews,(estofados) for example Irish Stew, Ballymalloe in Gaelic. This is made with lamb chops,(costillas de cordero) potatoes and onions and cooked slowly in the oven.(horno) This was left cooking when everyone was working in the fields. When they returned home it was ready to eat.
You have probably noticed (fijarse) that there seems to be an Irish bar in every town in the world. But these are often poor imitations of a real Irish pub. Pub culture is a very important part of society and in rural communities the village pub is the centre of all social life. Men (and many women) drink pints of stout (only tourists ask for half a pint (media pinta). Make sure you buy a round (ronda) for everyone in your group. Smoking was banned (prohibido) in all pubs in Ireland last year, but the effects were not as apocalyptic as many people had predicted, and has made them more pleasant places for non-smokers.
Oysters and Guinness
With its long coastline,(litoral) it is not surprising that Ireland has excellent fish and seafood.(marisco) Salmon, trout, prawns,(gambas) mussels (mejillones) and oysters are some of its specialities. In fact there is a festival dedicated exclusively to oysters. The Galway International Oyster Festival is more than fifty years old and attracts visitors from different countries.
The Irish love cakes, and one of their favourites is Barmbrack. It is made with dried fruit soaked (frutos secos en remojo) overnight (toda la noche) in tea. Originally it was a cake that was eaten at Halloween and contained a pea,(guisante) a piece of cloth,(un trozo de tela) a stick (palillo) and a ring.(anillo) The person who received a piece with the ring would be married before a year had passed! Now it is served all year with butter and lots of tea. Maybe you will still find a ring in your slice!Try our recipe of Barmbrack and surprise your guests with a delicious Irish dessert!