Hello, Americans. If you’re thinking of moving to Ireland, or maybe just visiting for a nice long time, there are some cultural and day-to-day differences that may throw you for a loop. Some of them are obvious–like driving on the left and not pulling a gun on people in traffic. But there are more subtle changes you’ll experience, and it’s helpful to know what you’re getting into before you order a sandwich with extra mustard, drive on bald tires, go hunting for Tylenol, or renew your Amazon subscription.
Irish life is just a bit different. Here’s how:
- AT HOME: Say goodbye to a lot of the frozen and “convenience” foods you’re used to–Cool Whip, pizza rolls, Bisquick, Jell-O, crescent rolls, cinnamon rolls in a tube, cream of mushroom soup. You’ll need to get back to basics for a lot of your home cooking–learning how to make pie crust from scratch, whipping your own cream, and roasting root vegetables in the oven.
- FAST FOOD: It’s not nearly as common here. Most big cities will have a McDonald’s, Subway, and a Domino’s Pizza. Maybe even a Burger King. The most popular and common fast food restaurant is Ireland’s own Super Macs. That said, fast food just isn’t a regular staple. Prepare to say goodbye to Arby’s, KFC, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell.
- BREAKFAST: Forget waffles and French toast. Pancakes as you know them are also gone, unless you find someone advertising “American-style” pancakes, and they’re usually awful. Cereal is still an option, but you’ll have fewer choices–and be warned, regular Cheerios are very sweet here.
- SNACKS: You can’t go anywhere in Ireland without seeing a bag of Taytos, which are Irish crisps. Oddly enough, the default flavor of crisp is cheese & onion. Plain “chips” are hard to find here. If you don’t go for cheese & onion, then other popular choices are salt & vinegar or prawn cocktail.
- MUSTARD: Beware, mustard in Ireland is not the yellow stuff you’re used to. It’s much MUCH hotter. It’s more like raw horseradish. Use at your own risk.
- THE LINGO: Let’s do this–Irish vs. American
– Crisps = Potato Chips
– Chips = Fries
– Pies = Savory dinner pies
– Tarts = Can be tarts, but more likely are full dessert pies
– Pudding = Well, it isn’t dessert pudding. I still don’t know what the hell it is.
– Courgette = Zucchini
– Aubergine = Eggplant
– Chicken goujons = Chicken tenders
– Cheese toasty = Grilled cheese
– Pancakes = Crepes
– Sweets = Candy
– Biscuits = Cookies
Pubs & Drinks
- SPIRITS: Remember what I said about getting back to basics? That goes for drinks, too. Most pubs or bars don’t have a wide range of cocktails available–they’ll cringe if you even mention a Bloody Mary (learn to make those at home from scratch). Forget cotton candy-flavored vodka or whatever specialty liqueur you adore. No Moscow Mules. No tropical drinks with umbrellas. And the smaller the pub, the smaller the selection. Expect one or two types of vodka, one type of rum (probably not Captain), and probably no tequila. However, most pubs have a variety of gin, whiskey, and beer! If you aren’t getting beer, whiskey, or wine, here are the most common orders: Cider, gin and tonic, Irish coffee (coffee and whiskey), hot toddy (whiskey, hot water, cloves, lemon juice), or maybe a rum and Coke. There’s nothing wrong with just ordering coffee or tea, of course!