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A Just N Life Intern’s Food Guide to Ireland

A Just N Life Intern’s Food Guide to Ireland

Hello! I’m Nicholas Kobe, a rising college junior and a writing intern at Just N Life. My brother had the opportunity to study abroad last semester in Ireland. I didn’t want to miss out on the fun, so I hopped the pond to go see him.

JustNLife Intern Nicholas Kobe in front of Trim Castle in Ireland
Nicholas Kobe in front of Trim Castle in Ireland. Photo by Nicholas Kobe

It’s not every day that you get to explore a new country. As a college student When you do have the chance to travel, the stress of, “Did I do and see everything?” is always a lingering fear and was something that I experienced while on a trip to Ireland late last month. To help you avoid that FOMO, here are five of the most important foods and drinks you must try on your trip to Ireland.

Guinness

Guinness beer, the most popular beer in Ireland
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. There’s really no point in recommending you try Ireland’s trademark beer because Ireland will never let you forget about it; Guinness had signs and merchandise in every single pub I visited in Dublin. While it’s not going to be something everyone enjoys, it’s worth a try considering how important the brand is to Ireland. Luckily, because of its popularity, you don’t have to go out of your way to find it on tap. I specify on tap because, even to a non-beer drinker, there’s a clear difference; Guinness is perfectly okay out of a can, but on tap is where it fully lives up to its reputation. I’d describe Guinness as “hearty.” It has a much fuller and more satisfying flavor palette than a lot of popular American beers. It retains all typical beer qualities, including being very bitter, but it’s got the substance and wholesomeness to back it up. 

Bulmers

Bulmers hard Irish Cider
Photo by @bulmersireland on Instagram

Guinness beer and Jameson whiskey may take the cake for most famous Irish alcoholic beverages, but there is a third option that I think really needs to be given its due. Bulmers is a hard cider that strikes the perfect balance of genuinely pleasant fruity flavor with the bitter undertones of alcohol. As someone who enjoyed Guinness but can’t drink beer daily, Bulmers became my go-to. Just like Guinness, Bulmers felt hearty and complete, but it also had a very warm apple taste that wasn’t matched by the other ciders I tried in Ireland. Bulmers walks a fine line between being an accessible alcohol without tasting like a fruit punch, and it absolutely nails it. 

Fish N Chips

Fish N Chips sitting on a wooden table, another popular dish in Ireland
Photo by Camille C on Pexels.com

While fish and chips may more commonly be associated with England, Ireland also does not mess around when it comes to this simple staple of European seafood. Like England, Ireland is still an island, and it has an accordingly large amount of seafood throughout, so even though I only had it once on the Aran Islands, you don’t have to go far out of your way to have as much fish and chips as you could possibly want. The first thing I noticed about the dish was that the fish was absolutely massive. It looked like it was just the whole fish, fried up and put in the basket. Considering fish isn’t the most filling food, having so much of it is really nice. The breading-to-fish ratio was also really great, making it one of the most satisfying fried fish I’ve ever had. I also thought the chips, or fries for Americans like me, were good. If fried fish is your thing in the States, you’ll love fish n chips in Ireland. Even if it’s not usually your jam, Ireland has a wealth of seafood options worth trying.

See Also

Fanta

Collection of sodas, including a Fanta
Photo by Emre Akyol on Pexels.com

Though drinking an American, Coca-Cola branded soda in Ireland may not seem like the most enticing experience, Fanta is the most dramatic showcase of Ireland’s differing standards towards artificial coloring and flavoring than places like the United States. In Ireland, Fanta’s piercing orange look is gone, with the soda itself looking a lot lighter, closer to the color of orange juice. In taste, it’s pretty much the same story. The natural orange flavor dominates Fanta in Ireland, which is a pretty distinct difference from the uniquely artificial version we have in the States. In general with sodas, the carbonation and “fizz” is a lot weaker in Ireland, with the base flavor dominating much more. In my opinion, this works well for Fanta and makes it something I think all Americans should experience as a point of comparison in our culinary cultures.

Chocolate

Cadbury Chocolate used in a bread recipe
Photo by Din Aziz on Pexels.com

I love chocolate in the States, but I’m not picky about quality. Chocolate is chocolate, right? Well, in Europe, no it’s not. According to Buzzfeed, European chocolates have different requirements in terms of milk fat, cocoa and dairy solid minimums. This leads to dramatically different-tasting chocolate. European chocolates like Cadbury or Aero are noticeably creamier and richer than in the United States. Besides the richness, it also feels like it has more substance than in the United States. European chocolate is just so genuinely pleasant to eat. As a fan of the classics, milk chocolate really earns its name in Europe, and became the thing I consistently enjoyed eating the most in Ireland.

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