One of the first things I noticed about Ireland was how everything tasted so much fresher. The vegetables taste like they were just picked from the ground; the eggs, as if I went out and collected them moments before cooking them up. Anyone that has a garden and grows their own vegetables knows just what I am talking about. Nothing beats the taste of a carrot plucked straight from the ground; its crispy and tastes pure. If you have never grown vegetables, find someone with a garden and try something handpicked and fresh immediately; there is nothing like it.
The eggs in the supermarket are not refrigerated, the container requests you refrigerate them once brought home, but we have yet to put them in the fridge. Most of their meats are labeled “Irish Fresh”, so I assume they are all homegrown, and the island isn’t that big (internets say the entire country of Ireland is equivalent to the size of Indiana). I could do some research on where everything comes from, but I don’t really want to.
Besides the food being fresher, the appliances for holding and cooking food are smaller. When you don’t have as much space in your refrigerator/freezer and oven; it’s much easier to cook smaller portions. A Large pizza in America (1) would hardly fit in this oven we have. Our oven is 2.5 cubic feet, while the average American oven is 5 cubic feet; seems like a small difference but it’s made cooking more interesting. The refrigerator/freezer combo we have is 74 inches tall as opposed to the 70 inches you get in America; however, the width and depth are smaller 23 in vs 32 in wide and 24in vs 34 inches deep. Yes, I did my research and check the technical specifications.
Food is fresher, appliances are smaller, and the country, as is true with most of Europe, has smaller portion sizes then what we are used to. Eating less is actually encouraged in Ireland, while in America I feel the opposite is true; overindulgence is an indicator of wealth. We went to McDonalds a few days ago, yes, they have American fast food restaurants here, we ordered a large drink to share and the size was equivalent to “small” in American McDonalds. Speaking of McDonalds, the fries and burgers and nuggets all tasted slightly different; not as deep fried I suppose, it was actually ok tasting. I normally am not a fan of McDonalds, probably because it was all I wanted to eat when I was pregnant with my oldest child. We don’t plan on eating there often, it was just convenient at the time and we wanted to give the kids a “little taste of home”.
Dublin is a very walking/biking friendly city and it is not only largely encouraged, but they have made it easy to be car free. Every road that I have been on thus far has not only a large sidewalk for pedestrians, but those roads also have a clearly marked bike lane next to said sidewalk. Some areas even have two bike lanes one for coming and one for going. Riding a bike around the county is a piece of cake, but that being said, bikes are one of the most stolen possessions in the area, so leaving the bike outside is a dangerous game.
The LUAS system is pretty efficient for getting you where you need to go. It can take you to just about every suburb within County Dublin. From the city center to the very bottom of the county. There are plenty of shopping centers, parks, schools, and grocery stores within walking distance from any LUAS stop. The kids love to ride it as well. We have been here for two weeks and without a car; we have had no problem finding stores or places to explore. By the time we leave here, we will have taken every stop along the LUAS.
Dublin has encouraged Kevin and I to engage fully in a healthier lifestyle. If we are going to walk everywhere, we might as well embrace the fresh foods and smaller portion sizes too. It is also nice to be able to encourage a more healthy lifestyle in our children. We got a little lazy in Washington, it was easy to just pop in some processed foods for dinner and then sit around watching TV all night. In Dublin, we go for a walk every night after Kevin gets home from work. Somedays we go to the store to get groceries and something to make for dinner. Other times, we go out searching for a new park with a play area for the kids. Some nights we just get off at a LUAS stop and explore the area for a bit. All in all, Kevin and I average about 6 miles a day, I walk around the apartment a lot and he runs to and from work.
The food and lifestyle in Ireland is vastly different from America, and that isn’t a bad thing. Americans could definitely learn a thing a two from Europeans, I know I have and its only been two weeks.
- Please excuse my egotistical use of the word “America” when I should be saying “the United States”. I realize there is more to the Americas beside the States, but typing out America is much easier and most people easily associate the term to mean “the United States”.
- Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cianginty