I’m looking back on three months having lived here in Ireland and this post is probably going to sound a bit more negative than the way I wrote-up my impressions one month on. Which is a little in line with the last couple weeks since I’ve been generally annoyed at life: two weeks ago I gashed my hand requiring stitches and making use of my dominant hand much more difficult, and then I’ve spent the past week being sick, so my outlook isn’t the most positive right now. On the other hand, I’m writing this while enjoying a freshly grilled steak and some homefried potatoes while sitting out in the back garden, and being eyed eagerly by two apparently neglected dogs. So don’t get me wrong, in reality life is pretty good :).
Three months is long enough that I’ve been able to realize some of the things that I don’t get here so rather than a general impressions, I’m focusing on the things I miss most from the US. Caveat on this list – I’m not really going to talk about friends and whatnot here. That was what I expected to miss most about moving here, and I was dead on that without a doubt friends from Seattle (and beyond) are the thing I miss most. Onward to the list!
The first chunk is food related:
1. On the Mexican / Tex-Mex food tip: good fresh flour tortillas. Oh, and taco trucks.
2. Getting a burger out that’s cooked medium-rare. Apparently since the BSE crisis in the 90s it’s law that a restaurant has to cook ground beef (mince here) to medium well or well. I heard a rumour from an American that we met shortly after moving over that he was able to talk a particular joint into cooking his burger medium rare, but I’ve resigned myself to medium well if I get an option. It’s a shame because Irish beef is quite good and there are a couple of burger joints that I’ve found to be otherwise extremely good 🙂
3. Southern BBQ. Due to the braces I hadn’t been eating that much barbeque lately anyway, which health-wise is probably a good thing :), but I’ve yet to see any evidence of a southern-style smoke-shack anywhere. Like a medium-rare burger, this is another thing that I’ll have to deal with at home :). Terminology clarification – by bbq I mean brisket, ribs, smoked chicken, etc., rather than just grilled burgers or steaks.
4. Steak related – the two that are going to be hardest to address because I need to find a butcher that’s willing to do some custom cuts – skirt steak and hanger steak. I have a couple leads for a butcher that might do this but need to go chase them up. The easier to address on is a nice thick, what my friend Avi would call, American FU steaks. It should be easy enough to get my local butcher to just cut me a steak that’s thicker, I just haven’t asked.
5. Doggie bags. Despite the rep that American portions get, and Claim Jumper definitely deserves, an Irish meal really isn’t smaller, or at least not much. But an overall dining difference is that I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do a to-go container. The more I think about it, given that the economy is still rough here, it’s a bit surprising that it hasn’t come up a bit more so that you get multiple meals out of whatever you’re buying. Maybe because people are more likely to go out afterwards and you don’t want to lug containers with you for the rest of the night? Or its just viewed as trashy to do it? Dunno.
6. Pop-chips. Enough said.
Finally, some things non-food related!
7. Watching American sports at a normal hour. For things like baseball or football, if the games are on the channels we get, or if I’m willing to trek to the Woolshed (bar that shows a lot of sports), I can easily catch the early game, but the late game is a lot less likely to happen.
8. Going to Sounders games. I haven’t been to any live sports events here yet so maybe this will be replaced with supporting Leinster Rugby or something else. Or with the Sounders in a tailspin to start the season 😦 maybe I’ll quickly tune them out anyway :).
9. Having almost every website or service Just Work for my location. This is really a commentary on how US-centric a lot of websites are and how annoying it is to try to purchase something when you get to the checkout it either refuses to acknowledge that you might be outside the US and not have a postcode, or actively rejects selling and shipping to Ireland but didn’t bother telling you that before you wasted your time trying to buy the item in question.
And other than friends back home, that’s pretty much it for the ‘top things missed’ list – if you’d asked me before we moved I would have thought the top things missed list would have been longer and had more important stuff on it. Even better there are a lot of things about Ireland that I’m finding to be pretty great, but that’s for the next post methinks.
Reward for getting this far – crappy picture of a picturesque bridge in Clonegall (Co Carlow) from the weekend. Ones with more of a panorama and overall better framing were ruined with the leaf-less branches of a weeping willow so you get this mediocre pic instead :). I’ll have to head back in the spring / summer when I suspect it’ll be better for photos…