What do you think of when you think of Irish food? Potatoes? Pies? Soda bread? Student Ambassador Olivia offers a new option, one that is widely known, widely loved, and widely eaten in Ireland! To her, this dish has come to signify much more than just a meal. Curious? Keep reading!

Immersing yourself in an entirely new culture can be daunting to say the least. There are new rules to abide by, new roads to navigate, and new accents to become accustomed to. While this mindset is hard to shake at first, when opting for the glass (or pint) half full outlook on life, it’s clear to see why Ireland is renowned for its hospitality industry. In this case, the cultivation of unfamiliar customs means indulging in new delicacies, feasting on foreign cuisines, and relishing in unforgettable moments that can be made, even after a night in the most unassuming of pubs!


The main question I receive when I mention I study abroad in Ireland is: what is the food like? While it might seem like an easy answer, the elaborateness that accompanies this seemingly clear response makes it one of my favourites to answer. 

Guiness Storehouse (photo: Olivia)

Residing 30 minutes outside of Dublin in the town of Maynooth, the opportunities to encounter an authentic Irish culinary experience are plenty. Ranging from traditional light bites (like fish and chips or cheese toasties) to classic sit down dinners (where Irish steak is a staple), being able to enjoy the little things that the native Irish interact with consistently has been a contributing factor for me feeling a genuine part of society here.  


Although Irish food might seem limited to the famous dishes like bangers and mash, or shepherd’s pie, the mixing pot of cultures and unique identities that make up the Irish population means an equal amount of culturally extraordinary dishes to try. One of my favourite unexpected fares would have to be a spice bag; a combination of chips, crispy chicken, vegetables, and chillies. Although it might not be perceived as “traditionally Irish”, after my 4 years in this country, it’s clear to see why it’s so popular. Although it can be enjoyed at any time of the day, the driving force behind why this meal is so beloved by the vast majority is the late night experiences that go along with it. Whether it’s eaten after a night out in town with the girls, or acquired on the walk home from the local pub, eating a spice bag normally coincides with one universal event: quality time with people.


The amount of laughter, story telling, and friendship bonding I’ve witnessed through my encounters with Irish cuisine (especially spice bags) has easily contributed to my overall positive experience here in Ireland.  


Olivia is studying Marketing & Innovation at Maynooth University.