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Navigating the world of Irish food as an American - sampling the famous black pudding

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Caela settling in to life in Ireland and embracing the food
A few years ago, I decided to study abroad at the University of Limerick where I now go to school for my postgraduate degree. At that point, I knew nothing more about the Irish lifestyle than any literate “average Joe” with the capabilities of picking up a book and reading it, and to be completely honest, I felt overwhelmed upon arrival. Though I needn’t have worried so much about adapting, there are a few things that certainly “threw me”…the food, for example.

Before I continue, let me just say that I love the food in Ireland, and will debate with anyone who claims that it is “plain”. Irish food is comfort food; between the savory pies, stews, and fish and chips I am more than happy feasting over here. However, I’d be lying if I told you that I haven’t had some…interesting food moments as well.

Two that come to mind, are the “jelly” and “black pudding” incidents. As any of my friends could tell you, my sandwich of choice has always been peanut butter and jelly. As a study abroad student, I didn’t know that, translated in the Irish vernacular, my favorite sandwich was considered abnormal.

Jelly in Ireland does not refer to jam, but rather to what we Americans call “Jello”. Of course, this fact wasn’t brought to my attention until the first day I made the sandwich in front of my housemates, and by the time I caught on I was getting looks from people that made me feel like “Buddy the Elf” when he was putting maple syrup on spaghetti.

But I digress…on to the famous “black pudding” misunderstanding.

When Americans hear the word pudding, we automatically think of a dessert, but black pudding is not a dessert. Black pudding is a breakfast food…made from congealed pig’s blood. Oddly enough, if you’ve eaten this without knowing what you were eating ahead of time (like me) it tastes pretty good, but once the truth is revealed, sadly most Americans (myself included) tend to shy away from this very unique type of pudding while trying to forget it ever entered their mouths in the first place.

The silver lining found in these two experiences? I still indulge in a good “PB&J” on a weekly basis, AND I can still stomach black pudding when the occasion calls for it.

And so, lovely readers, I leave you with this vital point of information: white pudding?

Yeah, it’s not a dessert either.

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