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Conference Paper

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Publication Details

Mac Con Iomaire, M. (2006) 'The History of Seafood in Irish Cuisine and Culture' in Hoskings, R. (ed) Wild Foods: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2005, Devon, Prospect Books, pp. 219-233

Abstract

Fish is one of the most abundant wild foods available to a small island nation. Certain species of seafood have moved from being ‘poor man’s food’ to ‘luxury food’ over time. It may be said that the Irish do not behave as island people since we have little or no history of exploiting the sea compared to our European partners. Ireland was late developing its fishing industry and now suffers reduced EU fish quotas, the unfortunate but necessary result of decades of over-fishing on European waters. This paper investigates the historical role seafood has played in Irish cuisine and culture – past and present. The paper aims to dispel the myth that the Irish have no maritime food tradition and highlights that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Comparisons will be made between the consumption of seafood in Ireland and in other European countries. The paper identifies the factors (political, economic, cultural and religious) that have influenced Irish consumers in their purchase and consumption of fish, and discovers what food the Irish prefer to fish.

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