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France and Ireland in the Public Imagination


Edited By Benjamin Keatinge and Mary Pierse

This engaging collection of essays considers the cultural complexities of the Franco-Irish relationship in song and story, image and cuisine, novels, paintings and poetry. It casts a fresh eye on public perceptions of the historic bonds between Ireland and France, revealing a rich variety of contact and influence. Controversy is not shirked, whether on the subject of Irish economic decline or reflecting on prominent, contentious personalities such as Ian Paisley and Michel Houellebecq. Contrasting ideas of the popular and the intellectual emerge in a study of Brendan Kennelly; recent Irish tribunals are analysed in the light of French cultural theory; and familiar renditions of Franco-Irish links are re-evaluated against the evidence of newspaper and journal accounts.
Drawing on the disciplines of history, art, economics and literature, and dipping into the good wines of France and Ireland, the book paints a fascinating picture of the relationship between the two countries over three dramatic centuries.
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French Boobys and Good English Cooks: The Relationship with French Culinary Influence in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Ireland


‘So much is the blind folly of this age that they would rather be imposed on by a French booby, than give encouragement to a good English cook!’1

Taking Hannah Glasse’s comments on French food and culinary prowess as a starting point, this chapter will consider the perception of French food in elite circles in Ireland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and to what extent it permeated Irish culinary discourse. Just as Glasse articulates a view of French cookery in the English imagination, it is interesting to examine some of the ways in which French cuisine and society were ‘imagined’ in Ireland.

Commentary on French cuisine by Glasse and her contemporaries has been interpreted as being more political in nature than founded on any real antipathy towards French culinary prowess, in particular in those recipe books that mark the shift from the aristocratic to the bourgeois paradigm. Lehmann, reviewing the various arguments as regards the extent to which French cooks and cuisine were fashionable and desirable in eighteenth-century England, articulates her findings in a political frame, namely the existence of a close link between French cook and Whig employer: ‘politics, even party politics, impinged on the dinner table’.2 An example of this is in the association of French chef Pierre Clouet with the Duke of Newcastle. ← 207 | 208 → A preoccupation with French cookery was a burgeoning one amongst the political elite, notably the Whigs, who competed for the services of the most...

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