Is Roisin Dubh really a song about Ireland or actually a poet’s love for a woman’s beauty?
Roisin Dubh (Dark Rosaleen or Little Dark Rose) is a 16th-century Irish song that was thought to be written as a political tune for Ireland but is based on an older love-lyric referring to the poet’s “beloved,” which could have been a literal reference or a metaphor for his country.
I am very lucky to have spent a great deal of time exploring the beautiful scenery and traditions of Ireland. Because of that, I have a great love and admiration for the country, its folks, and its food. My work over the past twenty-some years has consisted of extensive travel around the globe to some of the world’s most extraordinary countries notably famed for their influence in the culinary arena (leading me to new global food trends we, chefs, chase with epicurious gusto). By the time you read this, this blog will be but a fond memory of a spectacular time in my liffe.
More times than not, I was sitting in a warm, cozy spot in a Medieval Cafe at a Monastic Ruins in the quiet little village of Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland. On a lucky day, I would be at the Brazen Head, known as the oldest pub in Ireland, in between the melody of a Druid Song, sitting on a barstool with a pint of Guinness Stout in hand, enjoying a hearty pub-style lunch. Later in the day, I would enjoy a walk along the Ha Penney Foot Bridge, crossing the Liffee River in Dublin City, who I continue to love endearingly to this day.
And so it is. Those were the days of my life on the road.
I want to give thanks to the Irish for their excellence in spreading the contagious nature of their love for tradition to other regions and nations around the world. The Irish way of preserving history and evolving classic foods and recipes is near and dear to my heart, and with this post, I hope to bring a little of that sunshine to you.
One of my fondest Irish culinary memories is of a simply wonderful food; potatoes, specifically the evolution of potatoes coming to Ireland through South America around the 17th-Century. It’s relationship to social status is extremely interesting, and how, for centuries, it was one of the few, nourishing staples aiding in the survival of Ireland’s impoverished peasants. The Great Hunger in 1845 caused millions of people to starve to death in Ireland, forcing those remaining to migrate across the Atlantic Ocean into New York City – a place where my romance with food began as a child, growing up in a melting pot of diverse cultures overflowing with the likes of Old World Irish Tradition itself. This emigration is responsible for influencing the many changes in preparation and presentation of some of the foods we eat today. And, how could you forget North America’s colorful celebration of St. Patrick’s Day which, thanks to many of those Irish immigrants, still continues today.
Today, Ireland is enjoying the riches of their sustainable agriculture, which is now cultivating oats, barley, wheat sugar beets, and an array of vegetables, marvelously tasty, healthy livestock.
Don’t forget the production of their highly notable libations – first and foremost, Guinness Stout. Guinness was created in 1759 and continues to be brewed today on many, many acres of Ireland’s beautiful, bountiful green lands. Today, Jameson’s Irish Whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream (my favorite) are adored when poured into a nice, warm cup of coffee.
Ireland has produced many highly-notable foods, drinks, and people – but the most admirable feat of the Irish is their ability to gather around The Irish Table. Whether you’re celebrating, mourning, or just coming together at the end of a long day, gathering around together as a crowd is something done almost on a daily basis. Until you’ve been to an Irish Wake, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
As you can tell, my love for Ireland and its people is insurmountable. Their spirit is coupled with their love of food, tradition, and the combination of the two is unlike any other culture and I hope to go back soon. With that –
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rain fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
For a fantastic Irish celebratory meal anytime of year, click here.
This Irish pub radio station will take you straight to Ireland, without the flight!