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Gourmet Ireland

Dicembre 2005
Finiti i tempi della cucina povera a base di patate, l’Irlanda riscopre le proprie tradizioni culinarie e le ripropone con entusiasmo ai pubblico internazionale. Tutto è partito da Kinsale, la capitale gastronomica dell’isola.

di Kathleen Becker

File audio:

Ciaran Fitzgerald
Ciaran Fitzgerald

Speaker: Rachel Roberts (Standard British accent)

Many people still associate Irish cuisine with the potato, which has been a major part of the Irish diet for centuries. Generations of Irish people grew up eating potatoes, Irish stews and cottage piescarbohydrates ruled. Over the past 10 years, all this has changed, however. At the centre of the fine food revolution is the fishing town of Kinsale, Ireland’s “Gourmet Capital.” One of the most famous hotels in town is the Blue Haven. It is managed and co-owned by Ciaran Fitzgerald, the youngest in a Kinsale family of six. Ciaran was only 25, and working as an accountant, when he took over the running of the hotel last year. The hotel’s outer wall is the oldest wall in town: 200 years ago, there was a fish market here. Kinsale’s fishing heritage, says Ciaran Fitzgerald, is very much reflected in the Blue Haven’s restaurant menu:

Ciaran Fitzgerald (Standard Irish accent):

We have very much focused on seafood. Seafood is emphasised. You’ve got fresh lobster from the tank, you’ve got John Dory, you’ve got red snapper, a lot of just nice seafood dishes. I suppose, Kinsale, fishing... traditionally a fishing town, great access to some fantastic local suppliers of seafood.
So we... I suppose that’s what we represent here, and that’s what I would see as modern Irish cuisine. I’ve a team of chefs in there who, who have pretty much, I’d say 70 per cent of them are Irish, but they’ve trained abroad.
So they take those dishes and they put some little twist on them, with different accompaniments and different things like that. So, I suppose the basic dish itself, the roots of it are traditional Irish type of food, and then you just garnish and accompany it with more kind of international flavours.


Places like Kinsale have benefited from Ireland’s new wealth. People now have more money to go to restaurants. But the beautiful scenery of the south-west has attracted both Irish and foreign residents since the 1960s.
Many started small farm businesses here, often growing organic produce. Today, more and more people want to buy high-quality food that is produced locally.
Driving west from Kinsale, you pass the town of Clonakilty. This is the home of Ireland’s famous black pudding, made from ox blood, oatmeal, onions, beef and six spices. Further north along the coast, lonely Sheep’s Head Peninsula sees few tourists. And yet on  this rugged finger of land Jeffa Gill produces rind-washed Durrus cheese. The cheese has won prizes and is even sold as far afield as Tokyo. Jeffa Gill didn’t expect this to happen when she began making cheese back in 1979. At that time cheese-making was virtually a lost art in Ireland:   

Jeffa Gill (Mild Irish accent):

I didn’t really intend to become a cheesemaker. I was young and enthusiastic and we had a small farm, and we had a small herd of cows. And I started to make cheese from the left-over milk from taking the milk to the dairy, to the creamery. So it started very much as a hobby. It wasn’t something I intended to do. I did not intend to build a cheese factory! But it was just in the 70s, and we needed to make a living off a small farm. So I made cheese. And the cheese developed and the market developed. Because it just went from selling to friends to selling to restaurants, to selling to the local shop and selling to a local distributor. You know, going from a pan on the stove to a vat in the corner, and then the house grew up around the cheese, and the dairy grew up. I just developed an interest in it, verging on an obsession, I suppose, but also an obsession to make a living.  It was a way to make a living, and live in West Cork. I always wanted to live in West Cork. Unless you were a writer, or you had a private income, you couldn’t live here.

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stew - stufato.

cottage pie - pasticcio tradizionale a base di carne trita e patate.

carbohydrates ruled - i carboidrati erano l’elemento essenziale.

accountant - ragioniere.

outer wall - muro esterno.

heritage - tradizione.

seafood - frutti di mare.

lobster from the tank - aragosta dall’acquario.

John Dory - pesce San Pietro.

suppliers - fornitori.

but they’ve trained abroad - si sono specializzati all’estero.

twist - variante.

garnish - guarnire.

wealth - benessere.

produce - prodotti freschi.

black pudding - sanguinaccio.

ox blood - sangue di bue.

oatmeal - avena.

rugged - accidentato.

rind-washed Durrus cheese - tradizionale formaggio a crosta lavata.

farm - fattoria.

herd of cows - gregge di mucche.

left-over milk - latte avanzato.

dairy - caseificio.

to make a living - guadagnarsi da vivere.

a pan on the stove - una pentola sul fornello.

vat - tino.

verging on an obsession - quasi un’ossessione.

private income - rendita.