31. Irish Culinary History, with Dorothy Cashman

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The political doesn’t always correspond in Ireland to the culinary.

Dorothy Cashman reads the long-forgotten recipe books of Irish country houses, and inserts them into the history of the country and the world.

In her analysis of one recipe book from Kilkenny, she gives us a fascinating portrait of a network of women and food culture, just as Ireland transitioned from the Georgian era to the Victorian.

What did people eat? How did they eat? How did they make their food, and what was distinctive about Irish food culture?

As she argues, Ireland’s colonial experience is inseparable from the history of its food, and yet the proximity of Ireland with its colonizer has always meant that the food culture of Ireland and Britain have always been close cousins. The result is that a postcolonial reading of Irish culinary history is a particularly difficult task.

Dorothy Cashman’s investigations spread out in all directions and lead us to explore major transitions in world food cultures, from the domination of the European Christian heritage, all the way to the era of American-style Big Food, and the inventiveness of the new generation of Irish chefs.

Listen here to learn about the difficulty of tracing the history of food, the reasons why it has been marginalised in academic research, and the amazing achievements of Dublin’s early confectioners.

Dorothy Cashman is an independent researcher in culinary history with a PhD from the Dublin Institute of Technology, now the Technological University of Dublin.

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