Nothing tells you more about a country than its unique and delicious snacks! From Australia’s fairy bread and Greece’s koulouri to Japan’s crazy-flavored Kit Kats and Scotland’s Irn-Bru, the world holds innumerable delicacies that you’ve never even heard of—including Ireland! Here’s five more snacks the Irish love (at least in some parts of the country):
To understand spice burgers, you first need to know what a chipper is—essentially, a little mom-and-pop, hole-in-the-wall takeaway restaurant where the majority of things are deep-fried (remember: chips are fries!) The staple meal is fish and chips, but chippers offer a variety of options, including the ever-popular spice burger. These are made of ground beef (hence burger,) mixed with “onions, cereals, and herbs and spices, coated with a traditional outer crumb.” This isn’t served with a bun though, just as a patty alongside your chips. Spice burgers remain so popular that when Walshs, the inventor and main supplier of spice burgers, went out of business in 2009 due to the recession they were back in business within the year (the public outcry was just too loud!)
A classic candy in Irish memory, flying saucers get their name from their unique shape—they look, undeniably, like our imaginings of an alien spacecraft. Also called satellite wafers, the candy gained popularity during the Space Race of the 1960s, when they spread across the UK and Ireland from their Belgian origins. The candy itself comes in a variety of pastel colors per packet and is made of a crispy rice paper shell that melts in your mouth to reveal little sour-sweet beads inside. The interior is made of a candy called sherbet, a fizzy candy powder otherwise eaten with the aid of a lollipop—akin to Baby Bottle Pop or Fun Dip (but in its own container—so maybe more like Pixie Sticks, though don’t eat that paper!)
Many Irish people refer to this simple snack as a “delicacy”—it’s that beloved. And it’s exactly what it sounds like: chips aka crisps (preferably Tayto’s, and preferably Cheese and Onion flavor,) butter (Kerrygold is recommended,) and white sandwich bread (try Brennans if you can.) That’s it! Beyond the importance of the above ingredients, tips include: making sure the butter is soft so it doesn’t rip the bread, don’t add any fancy spices and herbs, and of course, make sure to make two—once you start, you’re going to want more. There are definitely personal variations out there, but for some things, simplicity is what makes it good (and crisp sandwiches are definitely one of those things.)
What’s always interesting is what flavors are most popular in different countries. While America loves its cherry and blue raspberry, Ireland tends to favor blackcurrant—as evidenced by their love of the juice drink Ribena. Technically a British import (it was invented in 1938 in England as a source of vitamin C for children during the war,) Ribena is flavored with the tart-sweetness of the blackcurrant berry and comes either carbonated or non-carbonated. Though it was originally advertised as a healthy option, it’s generally considered a soft drink these days due to its sugar levels. But if it’s so good, why don’t we have it here? Blackcurrants are a banned crop in the United States, as they can carry a fungus that kills pine trees!
Dulse and Yellowman
You may have thought a sandwich with just butter and potato chips was going to be the strangest snack on the list, but this regional treat takes that title! Dulse and Yellowman is the unexpected pairing of a purple seaweed called dulse that’s been dried into chewy chips and a type of toffee-like honeycomb called yellowman—reflecting its intense hue. This is a Northern Ireland specialty, as that’s where dulse is native to, where this salty-sweet snack has been sold for hundreds of years! It’s traditionally sold and eaten at the Auld Lammas Fair at the end of each August, held in Ballycastle, County Antrim—so this is definitely more of a special treat than an everyday snack!
Of course, thanks to the power of the internet, you can get essentially all these items here these days (yes, even dulse!)…and we know this made us hungry for a taste of Ireland. Happy snacking!
This post is part of a series. Read our last modern Ireland post, all about Munster Technological University, here. Check out the blog every Monday and Thursday for more posts about Irish history, dance culture, community news, and spotlights on our dancers, staff, and families—among other fun projects! And don’t forget to dance along with us on both Facebook and Instagram.
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