Thursday, August 02, 2018

A Look At The Irelands - Part 3 Of Our European Adventure

I'm going to do something very unpopular, something that has been the subject of tension for years, and even cost people their lives. I'm going to write about Northern Ireland and Ireland in the same article.  Culturally I can see some differences between the two countries. There's no doubt that there are differences and ask any citizen of either country and they'll explain those differences. The problem I found is that the food is very similar. In fact I had to do some research to find out where some of the food I ate actually came from.
Take Tayto's for example. Tayto's are a brand of potato chips (or crisps as they’d call them) that no one else in the world except those who live in Ireland (north and other) have ever heard of. That's a shame, because they make a mean bag of chips. They're not the best chips I've ever eaten, but they're pretty good. The most amazing thing about these chips is how popular they are in Ireland. When we landed in Belfast, it seemed like the entire airport was sponsored by the potato chip company. According to one of the posters on the wall of the airport, Tayto's Cheese and Onion flavoured chips account for more than half of  the chips sold on the entirety of Ireland (both sides of the border I assume). I assumed by this huge presence in Belfast that these must be a Northern Ireland thing.

As it turns out, Tayto's are actually made in Ireland (the south), but you'd never have guessed that in the north. The north also had a huge amount of Cadbury products available. This was no surprise as Northern Ireland is a commonwealth country, and every commonwealth country I've ever visited is loaded with Cadbury treats. I thought that maybe this is something that would disappear once we visited the south, but no, lots of Cadbury all over the place. I found the same thing with grocery stores, and fast food places as well. I couldn't find one single difference between either Ireland when it came to food.
I would say the only difference I found between these two countries food wise was beer. It's more that I would say Ireland has an obsession with Guinness beer. At the very least it's something they truly celebrate/push on tourists. This is most obvious in Dublin, but every tourist stop we visited in Ireland (not the north) had some kind of Guinness trinket. Every truck stop had a whole section dedicated to buying Guinness merchandise. I didn't see that much up in the north, so maybe that's the great divide.

It makes me happy though, these are two countries that have a very bloody history. There's a lot of differences that these two countries will always have, and a history that can never be erased. But it's good to know that there are areas they can agree on, small things that remind them that although they've fought a war, they can still be in agreement upon. On either side of the border they can agree, cheese and onion Tayto's are pretty good.


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