Diaspora digested: What the Irish abroad crave from home

It’s the guilty pleasures - not the Irish mammy’s dinners - that make the tummies rumble

Tayto Fillet Roll, anyone? Photograph: GastroGays

Tayto Fillet Roll, anyone? Photograph: GastroGays



We moved across the Irish Sea to join the Irish in London brigade three years ago, and food from home, when we can get our hands on it, often rekindles old memories and transports us back to Ireland, if only just for a few mouthfuls.

We’ve developed a number of trad-with-a-twist recipes stemming from our own longing for the familiar, which are published on our blog, gastrogays.com. One example is a combination of two iconic Irish tastes - Tayto and a chicken fillet roll - resulting in a Tayto Fillet Roll featuring chicken breast crumbed in a smashed pack’s worth of cheese ‘n’ onion.

The recipe went viral, both in Ireland and abroad, which got us wondering what other staples do the Irish abroad miss most? We did a call out on our social media and got some fascinating insights.

1. Choco-block

Like a good pint of stout enjoyed close to the source, you can’t beat Cadbury chocolate made in Ireland. Everyone has their favourite flavour, whether that’s silky Dairy Milk, luxurious Caramello, crunchy Golden Crisp or fruit-filled Tiffin.

2. Make mine a mineral

We all remember family gatherings in the local pub as kids, sipping a glass of red lemonade through a straw. Sadly cans of Club Orange and bottles of Lucozade exceed the liquid restriction in hand baggage, though we’ve been tempted to try to sneak them past security on several occasions. Also whetting the thirst of the diaspora, according to the responses we received, is Tanora, that tangerine dream juice from Co Cork, and the heavenly combination of orange and lemon in a Rock Shandy. Interestingly, alcohol didn’t crop up in the list of drinks people said they miss from home.

3. Cupboard essentials

Americans adore peanut butter, continental Europe covets Nutella, the Brits hoard HP while the Irish crave Ballymaloe Relish. Few sambos are better improved than with a smear of Ballymaloe.

4. Freezer fancies

The Emerald Isle may only enjoy a few rare sunny summer days, but we have some of the best-stocked ice-cream fridges we’ve come across. We reckon there are hundreds of Irish on Bondi Beach wishing they were sucking on a Loop-The-Loop or Fat Frog right now, or had a face full of pink sprinkles from a Brunch.

5. Meats and deli

An English Sunday lunch heaped with roast beef, bread sauce and dripping potatoes often hits a spot, but it’s no match for a comforting and homely plateful of salty bacon and cabbage. But - close your ears, mammies of Ireland - we found it’s the fast-food sustenance from the likes of a greasy breakfast roll that those abroad crave more than meat and two veg.

6. Time for tae

Boston Tea Party? Pah! The real tea battle wages between camp Barry’s and camp Lyons. We’ve noticed more of a lean in popularity towards Barry’s, which may explain why the brand is widely available not only in major supermarkets in the UK but also in high-end retailer Selfridge’s.

7. Dreaming of dairy

We certainly don’t miss all that rain, but Irish dairy makes the soggy weather worthwhile, from an ice-cold glass of fresh milk, to softly whipped cream on apple tart. It’s infinitely better than the UHT stuff that’s the staple across central Europe.

8. Meaty breakfasts

The smell of a fry sizzling away on a sleepy Sunday morning is one of the first things you will miss when you up sticks and relocate abroad. “Irish-style” sausages sold worldwide leave a lot to be desired when compared to Kearns, Oldhausen, Clonakilty or O’Flynns. White and black pudding make the Irish fry magnificent.

9. Our daily bread

Stuff your artisan sourdough, when we arrive off a flight it’s the heel of the Brennan’s batch that we crave. We Irish love a sandwich or a slice of thick buttery toast, and there’s nothing better to make it with than a traditional Irish wheaten or soda bread. We’ve been known to sacrifice valuable luggage space to bring a loaf or two back to London.

10. Irish crisps

The Irish love affair with the fried potato doesn’t diminish after we move abroad, and we are probably most passionate when it comes to our obsession with Tayto. But we’d also happily chomp down on a crisp sambo stuffed with King, nurse a hangover with a packet of Waffles, or munch away with an almost childlike glee on bags of Snax, Chipsticks, Chickatees, Banshee Bones or Meanies.

What have we missed? Let us know what foods you miss most from Ireland in the comments section below.

Patrick Hanlon and Russell James Alford are the couple behind Gastrogays - a food and travel blog which began in Dublin and grew in London, with recipes, restaurant reviews and travel guides. Follow them on Twitter @Gastrogays and Facebook.com/Gastrogays.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. You will find food-related content in all of our sections. We will also have reader events, competitions and lots of exclusive content at irishtimes.com/food

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