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The Irish make the best of what they have

By Keri Fisher
March 11, 2009

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Historically, Ireland exported the best the nation had to offer - the choicest cuts of grass-fed beef, the freshest seafood from the surrounding waters - but the Irish people always kept a little bit for themselves. They kept what they thought no one else would use: the lesser cuts of meat or trimmings from fish. It forced them to be resourceful and develop a cuisine based on inexpensive dishes that are big on flavor. A traditional fish pie, for instance, is a cross between pot pie and shepherd's pie; it features a hearty fish stew with a mashed potato topping. Potatoes play an important role in Irish cooking (the average person consumes more than 250 pounds a year). Make them into boxty, pancakes that use both shredded raw potatoes and mashed potatoes. Or puree them into a thick soup using the classic combination of potatoes, leeks, and onions, with only garlic and cream to flavor it. Serve the soup with Irish soda bread - a hearty whole-wheat version or a raisin-studded white round. Even if you're not Irish, the food will seem familiar and feed you well.