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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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The Irish Pub Abroad: Lessons in the Commodification of Gastronomic Culture


In January 2012, the Lonely Planet released the latest edition of their guide to Ireland. It suggested that ‘the pub remains the number one attraction for visitors coming to Ireland and it is still the best place to discover what makes the country tick’ (cited in McGreevy 2012, p. 7). The links between the pub and Irish identity are strong and in recent years the expansion of Irish pub culture beyond national borders has influenced how people abroad view our gastronomic identity. Such commodification of Irish gastronomic culture has managed to successfully expose Ireland’s sense of place to people outside of the country. Though not always positive, this ‘place exportation’ has affected the image of Ireland and the Irish. One might reasonably ask how interactions with this type of commoditised sense of identity might encourage people to form a long-lasting bond with a particular region/place and how this might colour their attitudes to products particularly associated with that region.

In that same edition of the Lonely Planet, one of Ireland’s most popular tourism attractions, the Guinness Storehouse, is referred to as being ‘really about marketing and manipulation’. Therein lies the perennial difficulty with the commodification of gastronomic culture. How can the exportation of a gastronomic identity play a role in improving people’s relationship with a place without it being perceived as false and inauthentic? This difficulty surrounding the commodification of gastronomic culture can be even more pronounced when we examine how something as traditionally Irish as...

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