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‘Tickling the Palate’

Gastronomy in Irish Literature and Culture


Máirtin Mac Con Iomaire and Eamon Maher

This volume of essays, which originated in the inaugural Dublin Gastronomy Symposium held in the Dublin Institute of Technology in June 2012, offers fascinating insights into the significant role played by gastronomy in Irish literature and culture.
The book opens with an exploration of food in literature, covering figures as varied as Maria Edgeworth, James Joyce, Charles Dickens, Enid Blyton, John McGahern and Sebastian Barry. Other chapters examine culinary practices among the Dublin working classes in the 1950s, offering a stark contrast to the haute cuisine served in the iconic Jammet’s Restaurant; new trends among Ireland’s ‘foodie’ generation; and the economic and tourism possibilities created by the development of a gastronomic nationalism. The volume concludes by looking at the sacramental aspects of the production and consumption of Guinness and examining the place where it is most often consumed: the Irish pub.
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‘That delicate sweetmeat, the Irish plum’: The Culinary World of Maria Edgeworth (1768–1849)



‘That delicate sweetmeat, the Irish plum’: The Culinary World of Maria Edgeworth (1768–1849)

Introduction and background

In the scope and extent of literary criticism and discussion that Maria Edgeworth and her writing has occasioned there is possibly no more unlikely discussion than that of an exploration of her culinary sensibility. A landmark literary biography of Edgeworth by Marilyn Butler was published in 1972, and a twelve-volume edition of her novels and selected works, edited by Butler and Myers, was published in the years from 1999 to 2003. Edgeworth’s writing straddles several different categories, including as it does educational and moral tales for children, drama and romantic novels. Her work has attracted particular attention as a result of the rise of feminist literary criticism in the aftermath of second wave feminism, as scholars seek to explore concepts of patriarchy and ideals of domestic fulfillment in and through her fiction (Kowalski-Wallace 1991; Narin 1998).

Castle Rackrent, published anonymously in 1800, has been critically acclaimed as a comic masterpiece (Butler 1992, p. 1). Popularly categorised as the first regional, Anglo-Irish and Big House novel in the English language, this is contested by Campbell Ross (1991, p. 682) who points out that for at least fifty years before it was published many Irish authors, male and female, had produced a substantial and varied body of work that was published on both sides of the Irish Sea, and most of these authors...

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