Cooking in Ireland

Here’s one of my old columns! Hope you enjoy!


“Hey Mama, do you happen to know what half a cup is in grams?” I asked my mother on FaceTime. Mama responded with, “No, I don’t. They don’t use cups and tablespoons measurements do they?”

Starting to panic, I said, “No! Everything is calling for 200 grams and stuff. I have no idea what those are in our terms!” The only logical response she could muster has been the motto of my cooking life here in Ireland.

“Just Google it.”

I have since Googled countless things while in the kitchen. What is 350 Fahrenheit in Celsius? What’s the conversion from cups to grams? How do you make Toll House Cookies in Europe? It’s been a never-ending battle that I have slowly given up on. Cooking in Ireland just is not the same as cooking in America.

My first experience cooking in Ireland was interesting. I tried to cook a signature dish from home; something we call “Chicken ‘n Wine.” It calls for cream of chicken and cooking sherry.

First, I walked through the grocery store looking for the cream of chicken, but what I found was an unfortunately overpriced Campbell’s cream of chicken and the Tesco off brand which was a much more reasonable price. Deciding to save a few quid, I opted for the Tesco off brand in hopes that it would not be too terribly different from that of trusty Campbell’s.

Next, I searched the store for cooking sherry. This proved to be the most difficult of the venture. Living in Ireland where wine, beer, and ciders were consumed on a regular basis, alcohol free sherry was impossible to come by. I stalked up and down the isles looking for cooking sherry. I asked one of the employees for help, but when I explained to him that I was looking for alcohol free sherry, he more or less gawked and chuckled at me. The employee led me over the wine isle and wished me luck.

Standing before me was a massive wall of booze. White wines, red wines, wines with Spanish names. Wines that were worth twenty euro and wines that was worth eight. Some of the bottles were full size while others were miniature versions of the larger ones.

My mouth hit the floor. I had no idea there were so many different types of wine. I knew I wanted a white wine because the cooking sherry was a clear-ish kind of color, but I had no idea from there of what to chose. I ended up picking a small bottle of some Spanish wine with an 18th century Spanish caricature on the label. To this day, I have no idea what the name of that particular wine was, but it helped me cook my Chicken ‘n Wine.

Since then I have attempted to bake cakes, cookies, and deep fry chicken. Some of the food items I attempted have come out perfectly fine. For instance, I have been unable to find Cavender’s Greek Seasoning here in Dublin. In its place, I used steak seasoning. It added great flavor in my fried chicken batter.

Cooking in Ireland has been an interesting experience that taught me how to appreciate the measurements from home. It may be true that the metric system is easily mastered with simple measures of ten, but nothing beats the homegrown feeling of using a half a cup and a teaspoon. As for specific food items in my cooking, it has taken a little while to get used to the small differences, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

4 thoughts on “Cooking in Ireland

  1. I’ve been living in Europe for 2.5 years now and I still refuse to get scales and start using the metric system for cooking/baking – so like you I have Googled more conversions than I can remember and have even memorized some! Like did you know that 7 grams of yeast is roughly 2.5 teaspoons? Or that 500 grams of flour is 4 cups? 😛

  2. Haha, great post and I can only imagine your kitchen nightmares with the metric system! For me it’s the other way round. Every time I find a great recipe online and it’s showing measurements in cups I’ll sigh and close the page. No chance. I have no idea how you can cook with these imprecise measures? It must be the fussy German in me but I need to know everything down to the exact gram and my problem would be what cup to use? Small, medium, large? What if the recipe authors cup was slightly different and you’ll end up with a mess? And what is exactly half a cup? I pictured myself measuring the height of the cup, then drawing a line at the middle and trying to fill it up to this line. Same with teaspoons/tablespoons. Heaped? Not heaped? If heaped, how heaped? It’s so subjective and prone to error. So back to the good old kitchen scale for me 😉

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