Cooking and Dining in the Rebel County

Blog Post by Kimberly Reyes – Writer, Fulbright Recipient, and UCC Postgraduate Student Ambassador

For my first post I want to discuss the most important part of international, or I guess any, travel—food!

The Irish diet, or at least antiquated notions of it, was a hot-topic whenever I spoke about my move. So many of my friends worried the food options here would be severely limited to some kind of greasy meat, cabbage and boiled potatoes. I wasn’t as worried because I’d been to Ireland a few times, visits to Dublin and Belfast, and thought everything I ate was spectacular. From the mouth-watering quiches and omelets to the fresh bread, butter, cheeses, and fish and chips, Ireland was responsible for some of the best meals I’d ever had. And, ok, I should admit the last time I was here I stayed right by the Queen of Tarts in Dublin, so I was hardly suffering for tasty options. But I couldn’t live off of those indulgences day-to-day, and I am a bit of a foodie, so I could partly understand my friends’ concern.

Since landing here (only three weeks ago!), I’ve already eaten a lake’s full of fresh fish (for outrageously reasonable prices considering what would be comparable back home), and yes, plenty of chips, but also lots of amazingly fresh produce, veggie burgers, farm-fresh dairy, salads, pizzas, falafels and hummus, and just about everything else on offer in the States.

If you have cooking tools and a halfway decent kitchen, stores like Aldi, Dunne’s, and even the touristy English Market, make eating healthy, delicious meals incredibly easy. I used to make fun of my mom back home for her obsession with the low prices at Aldi in New York partly because, as a San Francisco transplant, I had farmers’ markets, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes at my backdoor, but I paid through the nose for a lot of the stuff that I loved at those places. Here, Aldi’s quality is the equivalent (or better) of Whole Foods back in the States with the same Aldi low-pricing, so I’m always there. Two fresh, Irish, organic salmon or sea bass filets for around five euros is more than fine with me. It’s really easy to find reasonable salads, vegetables and anything else you might want without all the chemicals that we are used to in the States in most markets. Grocery stores here also tend to stock very few ready-to-make frozen meals because freshness and meal preparation are a given.

And when I feel like eating out there’s plenty to splurge on. Besides incredibly delicious, no-brainer fish and chips places like The Fish Wife and Jackie Lennox’s, there are some upscale places getting international recognition and Michelin stars right here in Cork.

I do admit that I miss my favorite San Francisco greasy fish burrito, and a real slice of New York pizza, but I’m more than happy to trade those in for what’s on offer here!

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