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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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Transforming Ireland through Gastronomic Nationalism


In 2005, the UN general assembly heard that ‘the very best solutions come when business, governments and civil society work together’ (Blanke and Chiesa 2008, p. 98). Ireland is a country in need of solutions, and gastronomy is one that could be profitably exploited. Ireland can be reinvigorated and redefined through each person’s need to eat several times a day. Gastronomy has significance for all at some level, and it can transform Irish life – each citizen and organisation doing their part, so that, collectively, the nation benefits. This national activism will not be found in elitist or high profile restaurants, but in the authentic gastronomy of Irish domestic and workplace kitchens, grown by, purchased from, prepared and eaten by, Irish residents, supported and promoted by both a proactive business community and an engaged public service. This intuitively reflects Irish history, geography, culture, landscape, and all the other components that uniquely make Ireland what it is, thereby providing compelling reasons to engage, to visit, to do business here.

Ireland is not the first country to embark on this path, despite the globalisation of food, facilitated by transportation and technological innovation, and international tourism. Food, cuisine and gastronomy are tied to place. À la France (the archetypical culinary nation), culinary distinction is utilised as a marker of identity in places such as Norway, Singapore, New Zealand and Scotland in order to promote both tourism and exports. So this is about creating, in Ireland, an imagined community of gastronomy that...

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