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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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Cowpie, Gruel and Midnight Feasts: The Representation of Food in Popular Children’s Literature



Cowpie, Gruel and Midnight Feasts: The Representation of Food in Popular Children’s Literature

If food is fundamental to life and a substance upon which civilisations and cultures have built themselves, then food is also fundamental to the imagination. Perhaps the deepest emotional exposure we have of imagination is that which we experience in childhood. Just as food studies is becoming important in the field of general literature, so too is it becoming important in the field of children’s literature. Whether in memoir, fiction or poetry, writers continually hark back to childhood experiences of food, even when the intended audience is adults rather than children, as with Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. Food experiences form part of the daily texture of every child’s life from birth onwards, as any adult who cares for children is highly aware; thus it is hardly surprising that food is a constantly recurring motif in literature written for children.

(Keeling and Pollard 2009, p. 10)

This chapter sets out to explore the representation of this ‘constantly recurring motif’ in children’s literature with an emphasis on those aspects of the field which might be loosely termed ‘popular’ – folktales, the work of such classic children’s writers as Kenneth Grahame and Enid Blyton, the school story (including examples of this genre from the pages of Our Boys, an indigenous paper produced by the Christian Brothers, a Catholic lay order)1 and comics, for example. Although the majority...

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