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Celtic Food & Drink
Here at Celtic Link we’re all about feeding the soul. But we’re equally keen on feeding the body as well, so it’s fortunate that the Celtic nations have a rich and distinctive food and drink heritage.
From Scotland’s distinctive haggis, down through Manx kippers, Irish stew, Welsh cakes, Cornish pasties and on to the Breton galette crêpe, you’ll find food here unlike any other in Western Europe.
And the same goes for drinks. The most iconic is probably Scotch whisky (whiskey if you’re in Ireland).
But the Celtic nations also boast world-class gins and wine from Cornwall, beer from breweries large and small in Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Ireland (including a small brand called Guinness that you might have heard of) and cider in Brittany and Cornwall.
There's no danger of going hungry or thirsty on your travels through the Celtic nations!
Celts don't just do Whisky!
Think of Celtic spirits (the liquid ones, not the ghosts of our ancestors) and it’s a fair bet that whisky is the first that comes to mind. But in Cornwall, gin is the tipple that’s capturing the headlines at the moment.
When it comes to food, the region is probably best known for its crêpes, particularly the savoury version of the pancakes known as galettes. The buckwheat flower used in their making gives them a distinctive crunchy texture and they are served with everything from bacon and sausages to cheese and mushrooms.
When talking about food in Cornwall, you simply have to start with the pasty. What began as a humble miner’s lunch staple is now a globally recognised gastronomic phenomenon. And by the way, only a pasty made within the borders of the Duchy can legally be called a ‘Cornish’ pasty. Perhaps only the Cornish cream tea - clotted cream, jam and scones – challenges the pasty as the region’s culinary icon. Just make sure to put the jam on first if you want to avoid scornful looks from the locals.
A handful of ingredients – lamb, potatoes, bread – feature in many traditional Irish dishes. Irish Stew, with lamb, potatoes, onions and often carrots and bacon, is an iconic dish across the island and is particularly popular in the colder winter months. As you might expect, there are many potato-based dishes, including Colcannon (creamy mashed potatoes mixed with cabbage and served with ham) and Boxty (a type of pancake made with finely grated fried potatoes).
Given its geography, it’s hardly surprising that seafood dominates the traditional food produce of the Isle of Man. The national dish could be said to be herring and boiled potatoes while crab, lobster and scallops are also fished in local waters. Queen Scallops – Queenies – are a particular delicacy. Freshwater trout and salmon come from the island’s lakes and rivers.
Scotland boasts a large number of distinctive national dishes, but haggis is undoubtedly the most iconic. Essentially an animal stomach’s stuffed with a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, mixed with oats, suet, spices and onion, it’s a lot more appetising than it sounds. And it’s often served with ‘neeps and tatties’ (turnips and potatoes).
Leeks and lamb are the best-known ingredients in Welsh cuisine. Leeks feature in some of the most important dishes such as cawl (a meat broth with vegetables) and the Glamorgan sausage and the vegetable has become a symbol of the country itself. Lamb is the meat most associated with Wales due to the country’s extensive sheep farming tradition.