The Irish diet is misrepresented by foreigners as consisting of more traditional foods when in fact the Irish consume a wide variety of food and drink from all over the world.
Watch below as Irish participants try what Americans claim are ‘Irish dishes’. Whilst ‘corned beef and cabbage’ may be a traditional Irish dish, it isn’t a modern one. One of the participants remarked with disgust that it ‘looks like dog food’. White cabbage head did not get a much better response, and reactions to a pig’s trotter being served varied from repulsion to hilarity.
Although the participants liked Lucky Charms cereal, this was the first time most had tried it, and some thought it humorous that simply having a leprechaun on the box signified to some that the cereal itself was Irish.
Although this may be a mostly harmless example of place essentialism, such a generalisation about the place may lead a tourist to romanticise the difference between their culture and the Irish one. They may contrast this false tradition with a globalisation they dislike and then find themselves disappointed in their travels.
Their misconceptions could also mean they become embarrassed in a social situation where their beliefs are shown to be mistaken. Some Irish people could even be offended by this misrepresentation, thinking that a tourist sees them as outdated. As shown in the video, however, drinking culture is strong in Ireland, and Guinness is a favourite. Ireland is the country with the second highest per capita rates of ‘Heavy Episodic’ or ‘binge’ drinking at 39% of the population reporting drinking heavily recently. Place essentialist conceptions of Ireland as a land of drunkards still needs to be treated with scepticism, however, because this ignores the 61% of the population who did not drink heavily.