Special Report

20 Irish Foods Explained Just in Time for St. Patrick’s Day

16. Full Irish

Some version of this gloriously unhealthy breakfast combo plate is also eaten in England, Scotland, and Wales, and Northern Ireland has its own variation (see No. 19). The exact composition of the meal varies somewhat, but it will always include a number of the following elements: eggs, back bacon, sausage, black and/or white pudding (see Nos. 3 and 20), baked beans, mushrooms, and grilled tomatoes, with toast or soda bread (see No. 17) on the side. Potatoes in some form are also sometimes on the plate.

17. Soda bread

Real Irish soda bread isn’t the raisin-studded sweet loaf we know by that name in America. That’s more like what the Irish call “spotted dog” (the raisins are the spots), and is related to barm brack (see No. 1). Soda bread is simply bread that is leavened by the reaction between baking soda and buttermilk rather than with yeast. The traditional loaf is round, with a cross scored into the top. Legend has it that the cuts made in the dough before it’s baked are to let the fairies escape. A more practical reason might be that the scoring makes it easy to divide the loaf into four servings.

Source: nata_vkusidey / Getty Images

18. Stirabout

An evocative Irish name for porridge, or oatmeal — which has been eaten in Ireland at least since the 5th century A.D. Purists eat it without sugar, adding only salt and butter or cream. An old folk saying in Northern Ireland holds that stirring porridge counterclockwise will summon up the devil.

Source: Szakaly / Getty Images

19. Ulster Fry

Ulster Fry is the Northern Ireland version of the “full Irish” breakfast (see No. 16). In addition to the usual eggs, bacon, sausage, and often black and/or white pudding, a full-scale Ulster Fry might also include a wedge of fadge (a potato cake like boxty; see No. 5) and a soda farl (a kind of baking-soda-leavened griddled bread).

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20. White pudding

Made from pork, oatmeal, and spices, white pudding is very similar to black pudding (see No. 2) — but without the blood. Like black pudding, it is considered an essential element of the full Irish breakfast (see No. 16) and is often part of the Ulster Fry (see No. 19).

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