I love food. I love cooking. I love baking. I love Ireland.
My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve by Cathal Armstrong and David Hagedorn. Most of this book is filled with beautiful, traditional Irish cooking. The other part is filled with more modern recipes from Restaurant Eve.Wound throughout are tidbits from the author’s life. In his own words, “It is a culinary coming of age story of an Irishman, a chef, and most importantly, a son.” This book perfectly encapsulates the Irish feeling around food: it is a community experience. A family experience.
The book is filled with recipes passed down through several generations, finally landing in our laps in a gorgeous hard-bound cookbook. I adore it when cookbooks contain pictures, and My Irish Table is chock full of fantastic food pictures captured by the immensely talented Scott Suchman.
Having been to Ireland, I recognized many of the dishes in here. These are authentic recipes of Irish cuisine. I will, however, add a note on the ingredients. Whether or not you are able to obtain the ingredients listed in these recipes depends greatly on where you live. Ireland is a small and practically self-sustaining country in terms of food. If you enter a grocery store in Ireland, you’re going to see “Made in Ireland” stamped on everything. Foods are not only made in-country, but they are also very fresh.
This is going to be the most challenging in terms of proteins. Ireland has easy access to proteins from both land and sea. I live in the Midwest in the US, so seafood is not exactly easy to come by. And even if I could find it, it wouldn’t be cheap. This might mean that you have to skip over the many fish dishes in this book.
In other ways, though, it may be easier to substitute. For instance, many dishes in Ireland are based around lamb as the protein because Ireland has sheep everywhere. Lamb isn’t as easy to come by in certain areas of the United States, maybe, but beef is. Beef can be an easy (and cheaper) substitute. You may not get the exact same authentic Irish flavor (because they don’t eat a lot of beef there) but you can still make these recipes.
However, I would say the vast majority of these recipes use ingredients that are easily obtained from most places. And one of the great things about Irish cooking is that it’s not extravagantly difficult. Now, be warned. Since this cookbook also contains recipes from the author’s restaurant, there are a few in there that are more “gourmet” and may be more challenging. I consider myself an amateur home cook, and there were a few that I looked at that definitely seemed beyond me in terms of skill.
I would highly recommend this cookbook for anyone interested in genuine Irish cuisine. If you’ve been there and you loved the food, look no further for a guide on how to recreate those tastes in your own home. The heavy personal element of this cookbook reminds us all of how food can bring families together, and I’m sure it’ll bring to mind a recipe one of your relatives taught to you.
Happy reading and happy eating.