Is This Food Really Irish?

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Is This Food Really Irish?
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Is This Food Really Irish?

We take a look at popular Irish fare, such as soda bread and corned beef and cabbage, to find out if they are really Irish. Our findings may surprise you.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Irish Soda Bread

We typically see Irish soda bread with dried fruit and nuts, but that’s far different from the plain loaves traditionally eaten in Ireland. The Irish started making soda bread after the introduction of sodium bicarbonate in the early 1800s, but the origins of soda bread go farther back centuries ago when the American Indians first used pearl-ash, a soda naturally sourced from wood ash, to leaven their breads.

Verdict: That fruity, nutty bread? Definitely not Irish.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Corned Beef and Cabbage

A few things got lost in translation during the surge of Irish immigration in the late 1700s and early 1800, including the traditional Irish staple of pork and potatoes. Immigrants found Jewish corned beef, cured and cooked like Irish bacon, to be an inexpensive alternative. With more than enough flavor in the pot, cheap cabbage replaced potatoes as the main vegetable, and the rest is history.

Verdict: Tasty, but not Irish.

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Irish Porridge

Oats in Celtic history date as far back as ancient Roman times, and porridge is one of the oldest Irish foods, typically prepared from steel-cut oats cooked in buttermilk.

Verdict: Irish

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Colcannon is a boiled potato dish that derives its name from Gaelic cál ceannann, which means white-headed cabbage. Cabbage, as well as kale, are traditional ingredients, along with leeks, garlic or onion and cream or butter. Written records of colcannon in Ireland date as far back as the early 1700s, and this national staple dish has historical ties to Halloween celebrations.

Verdict: Irish

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Historically eaten on St. Brighid's Day with fresh butter, these potato pancakes are immortalized in an old Irish rhyme: "Boxty on the griddle, Boxty in the pan, if you can't make a Boxty, you'll never get your man."

Verdict: Irish

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Irish Coffee

Irish coffee was invented in the major port city of Foynes, Ireland in 1934. When bad weather forced a plane flying to New York City to return to the airport, chef Joe Sheridan offered passengers coffee drinks spiked with Irish whiskey, calling the concoction "Irish coffee."

Verdict: Cheers! It's Irish!

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Green Beer

Eyewitness accounts in 1914 attribute Dr. Thomas Hayes Curtin, a Bronx physician and coroner, as the inventor of green beer. Dr. Curtin unveiled his creation, beer tinted with blue iron-based dye typically used in laundry, on St. Patrick's Day at a New York City social club.

Verdict: This century-old gimmick is not Irish.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Whether or not these food are authentically Irish, they sure are tasty. Make these festive dishes for St. Patrick's Day with our best recipes.

Whole-Wheat Irish Soda Bread

There's nothing like homemade Irish soda bread with a generous spread of butter.

Get the recipe: Whole-Wheat Irish Soda Bread

Homemade Corned Beef with Vegetables

Corned beef and cabbage is supplemented with turnips, carrots, and boiled potatoes in this wonderful recipe.

Get the recipe: Homemade Corned Beef with Vegetables

Oatmeal-Rhubarb Porridge

While traditional Irish porridge is served with fresh buttermilk, we like this version with tangy rhubarb and brown sugar.

Get the recipe: Oatmeal-Rhubarb Porridge

Red Potato Colcannon

This version of the classic dish is made with steamed red potatoes, sauteed cabbage and just a touch of butter.

Get the recipe: Red Potato Colcannon

Pan Boxty

We love this tasty, five-ingredient recipe for potato pancakes.

Get the recipe: Pan Boxty

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

Reimagine the traditional drink as a cupcake for grown-ups. The moist, delicate cupcakes are flavored with espresso and brown sugar and topped with billowy whipped-cream frosting spiked with whiskey.

Get the recipe: Irish Coffee Cupcakes


When we think of typical Irish fare, visions of nutty soda bread and hearty corned beef and cabbage come to mind. But, are these dishes truly Irish?

We took a closer look at popular Irish fare to find out how authentic the versions we've come to know and love are. You might be surprised to find out which popular Irish foods don't really come from the motherland.

Check out the slideshow above to discover if corned beef and cabbage, soda bread and other foods are really Irish.

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