World Chefs: New cookbook upends notion of Irish cooking

Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:28am EDT
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By Noreen O'Donnell

NEW YORK (Reuters) - David Bowers grew up in Dublin, but he had never tasted corned beef and cabbage until he moved to New York. The dish that many Americans believe epitomizes Irish cooking was a mystery to him.

"Generally we have boiled bacon and cabbage in Ireland," he said. "And the cabbage is different and the meat is different, so it's a completely different dish."

Salty beef and soggy cabbage is replaced with Irish bacon and cabbage that is dark and full of flavor and texture, and it doesn't become waterlogged, he said.

In his new book, "Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country," Bowers, 50, upends long-held notions of Irish cooking.

Real Irish food is more in the style of French country food - slow-cooked stews, apple tarts, and artisanal black puddings - all based on fresh, seasonal ingredients, he said.

Bowers, who divides his time New York and Dublin, talked to Reuters about Irish food, how to reproduce the recipes of his youth.

Q: Why is Irish food so misunderstood?

A: I think it's got a bad reputation because Irish food was generally home-cooked food, and restaurants and fine dining haven't been a part of Irish cuisine ... So when people go and visit Ireland, up until fairly recently, there weren't a lot of good restaurants for them to go to. ... Also Irish food hasn't translated well to the United States, or around the world, because it's very ingredient-dependent.   Continued...

Cookbook author David Bowers is shown in this undated handout photo taken in Co. Offaly in Ireland. REUTERS/Sharon Bowers/Handout