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‘Tickling the Palate’

Gastronomy in Irish Literature and Culture

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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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A New Craze for Food: Why is Ireland Turning into a Foodie Nation?

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As one observes the Irish culinary scene today, an impression of abundance, hedonism and hyperconsumption pervading all food-related areas emerges. Ireland has gone mad about food: there has been a profusion of cookbooks and TV cookery programmes, starring celebrity chefs as well as completely unknown figures. In addition, there are numerous food festivals, farmers’ markets, food blogs, food exhibitions and eclectic restaurants to cater for gourmet cosmopolitan tastes; and the explosion of food-oriented businesses has changed the face of modern Ireland. The Republic is writing a new page in its culinary history and this new phenomenon cannot go unnoticed. How can these changes be interpreted? Should this be regarded as a mere fashion fad within a wider global context, or as a real cultural, artistic and sociological revolution reflecting Ireland’s current aspirations?

Interest in food in Ireland is not new, but it seems to have reached a peak in recent years. One could say that Ireland is turning into a ‘foodie nation’. First coined in 1980 by Gael Greene, a food critic writing at the time for the New York Magazine, the word ‘foodies’ (Greene 1980, p. 33) was used to depict the devotees of a renowned French chef, aficionados enraptured by her refined cuisine. In 1984, Ann Barr and Paul Levy popularised its usage in The Official Foodie Handbook. They define ‘foodies’ as ‘children of the consumer boom [who] consider food to be an art, on a level with painting or drama. […] Foodism crosses all...

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