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‘Tickling the Palate’

Gastronomy in Irish Literature and Culture


Edited By 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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‘From Jammet’s to Guilbaud’s’: The Influence of French Haute Cuisine on the Development of Dublin Restaurants


Gastronomy, fashion and philosophy are probably what most immediately capture the public imagination globally when one thinks of France. The most expensive and highly renowned restaurants in the western world are predominantly French whereas, historically, Ireland has not been associated with dining excellence. However, in 2011, the editor of Le Guide du Routard, Pierre Josse, noted that ‘the Irish dining experience is now as good, if not better, than anywhere in the world’. Nonetheless, Josse reminds us that ‘thirty years ago, when we first started the Irish edition, the food here was a disaster. It was very poor and there was no imagination’ (Bramhill 2011). Thus it may well come as a surprise to many that Dublin had a previous golden age for haute cuisine in the decades after 1945, and that it centred on two world-class establishments, Restaurant Jammet and the Russell Restaurant. This chapter will outline the origins of French haute cuisine and will trace the story of its movement from private households to the public sphere in the form of restaurants. This brief history of Dublin’s haute cuisine restaurants will outline the various stages of birth, prosperity, success, gradual decline, stagnation and then its subsequent resurgence in Dublin restaurants. It will also reflect on the public image of such cuisine and its purveyors over the years.

Since medieval times, Ireland had long been renowned for its hospitality. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, employment of professional French chefs by an Anglo-Irish gentry class...

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