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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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‘Brew as much as possible during the proper season’: Beer Consumption in Elite Households in Eighteenth-Century Ireland


The level of wine consumption by the gentry and nobility of Georgian Ireland attracted generally negative commentary from visitors to the kingdom’s shores (Bush 1769, pp. 26–27; Melville 1811, p. 85). Lord Chesterfield,1 during his tenure as Lord Lieutenant in Ireland (January 1745–November 1746), famously deplored the excessive expenditure by gentlemen on claret in particular (Chesterfield cited in Clarkson 1999, p. 84). Bishop Berkeley2 joined him in inveighing heavily against this ruinous tendency – to little or no apparent effect, it must be noted. Certainly, the bishop’s proposed alternative tipple – tar water – was never likely to attract many converts in a land where claret was consumed ‘cold, mulled, and buttered’ (Barrington 1826, p. 43) as well as being an integral element of elite hospitality (Maxwell 1946, p. 101). That wine was associated with the elite is not surprising. Mrs. Delany3 observed in 1752 that even ‘private gentlemen of £1000 a year or less’ were in the habit of regularly giving dinners that featured the wines of ‘Burgundy and Champagne’ (Delaney cited in Cahill 2005, p. 77). Less well known, perhaps, is the fact that beer and ale not only formed a necessary element of the daily nutritional intake of servants and workers, but also ← 177 | 178 → found a place on the sideboards of the privileged classes in this period. This chapter examines the place of beer in aristocratic and gentry households in Georgian Ireland. The different characteristics of ale, beer, and small beer are explained, and...

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