By Morgan Gunnels
CORK, Ireland – It was only 9:30 a.m. but the English Market was at full swing. Families, women with strollers, and wandering tourists all shuffled from booth to booth. We stood outside the gates of the food labyrinth as Regina Sexton, Irish food historian and adult education course coordinator at University College Cork, gave us the run down.
The English Market, first opened in 1788, is located across the street from the outer wall of the medieval city. The metal scroll-work gates and columns flanking the door elevates picking up your daily bread to a new level. This wasn’t always the case. There was a decline in visitors after an economic depression in the 1980s, a gas explosion and a later fire which led to a much needed building restoration in the 1990s.
Here’s what stood out to me: the tripe, edible cow stomach lining, at A. O. Reilly’s, which comes in honeycomb and regular and is typically boiled; Alternative Bread Company’s booth with the three main types of Irish bread – baker’s bread, soda bread and sourdough – as well as many others; Kathleen Noonan’s booth where all parts of pig are utilized and sold, even the offal.
Items that caught my eye included beautiful smoked salmon, chocolate biscuit desserts, moist and flavorful carrot cake, colorful jams, almond croissants and aromatic soaps.
As we walked out of the market a quote by Ross Lewis on the outside wall caught my eye. The ending line reads, “The market is a true gem.” Indeed.
Feet to tails, nothing is wasted. Kathleen Noonan pork booth at the English Market. Photo by Morgan Gunnels