Shopping for food in Ireland is a bit different than in America, but then much of that would come from moving to any new place. I’m one of those people who hates shopping in grocery stores I’m not familiar with, even in America. I wander aimlessly, and while I may have looked at every inch of aisle 4B seven times, I still can’t seem to see the jars of peanut butter I seek sitting there. Now, to help you understand shopping in Ireland, imagine you’re browsing in a store, and you don’t know if they even sell peanut butter. Finally, when you do find it, not a single brand is familiar to you. This is the dilemma facing an American shopper in Ireland (but at least the product labels are in English). I’d guesstimate that about 85% of the brands are different than those in America, as you might expect. Have a favorite type of bread, cereal, jelly, or soup? You probably won’t find it here, and even if the brand is here, the actual product may very well taste different. Not necessarily bad, just different.

With some things, though, the changes are wonderful. The English Market has been a trading center in Cork since 1788, and currently has four butchers (beef and lamb), two poultry stalls, four fish merchants, two pork and bacon sellers and other stalls selling cheese, eggs, fruits and vegetables, breads and pastries, and a few other odds and ends. Looking for a cheese to replace your favorite Tillamook? Sidle up to On the Pig’s Back and they’ll be happy to offer you samples of whatever interests you, and the selection of local cheeses is stunning. Expect to find cheeses made from cow, sheep or goat milk, but don’t expect it to be pasteurized.

When we lived in Corvallis, we would regularly go to the Saturday Farmer’s Market and while we loved the produce we purchased there, it was really more of a social outing than anything. Don’t get me wrong, the selection and quality of produce was great, but since we had Richey’s Market available with great local produce, that was our usual first stop. Here in Ireland, though, the grocery stores seem more like the big chains in America, with everything (including the produce) a bit too pre-packaged, so we shop around. I don’t think we’ve bought meat or poultry from a grocery store since we’ve moved here, and almost all of our vegetables and even our rice is bought from one local vendor or another. Yes, I know the rice isn’t locally grown, but packaged rice in the big stores just doesn’t taste as good.

Not surprisingly, our eating habits have changed. Our fish intake has gone up (it almost had to, starting as it did near zero), as has our vegetable consumption. We eat more potatoes and bread and less rice. It is a sad fact, though, that once you know you can’t have something, that’s what you want. Several times since we’ve moved, we’ve been wanting a good pizza delivered, but that’s not going to happen here. And while I’m a pretty good cook, and can make everything from chicken paprikas or beef Bolognese sauce to shoyu chicken or chicken and sausage gumbo, I have to admit that I’m a little saddened by the knowledge that my next Frito pie is years away.