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Darina Allen and other traditional Irish cuisine books


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I'm trying to get myself the closest thing I can to a definitive traditional Irish recipe cookbook. Not modern fusion 'expressions' by bored chefs, I mean really simple home-cooking recipes for all the Irish essentials and forgotten classics. Asking some food writers and culinary historians I know, two titles popped up:
1. "The Cookin' Woman" by Florence Irwin (definitely getting this)
and then

2. People have varying opinions on different books by Darina Allen. Primarily I am recommended "Forgotten Skills of Cooking". But I keep seeing "Irish Traditional Cooking" showing up as well. Can anyone tell me about these two Allen books and how they might differ?

My goal is traditional, authentic, home recipes, culinary history, techniques. Not an Irish person doing pot au feu and Carbonara. I want things people have been cooking for 100 years without embellishment and as little modernising as possible.

Thank you!!
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  • 6 months later...

I would recommend The Cookin Woman and Ballymaloe books.  You may find The Ballymaloe Cookbook by  Myrtle Allen is what you want (she was Darina's mother in law) - there are a couple of different editions. 

Some out of print books to look for are by Maura Laverty or Monica Sheridan. 


In 2015 'All in the Cooking'  was republished by O’ Brien Press.  It was used by the students of Coláiste Mhuire Cookery School in Cathal Brugha Street in Dublin from the 1940's and remained in use in schools and colleges throughout Ireland until the 1970’s.  You can see a couple of pages on the O' Brien Press website.  It is old fashioned - no photographs.


Or on the UK Amazon site I also found 'All About Home Economics' by Deirdre Madden  first published in 1983. It says it was the seminal text for Irish students studying Home Economics for over 15 years, so it may be more updated.


Also on Amazon were 'An Irish Farmhouse Cookbook' by Mary Kinsella, 'In An Irish Country Kitchen' by Clare Connery, 'The Irish Heritage Cookbook'  by Georgina Campbell and 'Best of Irish Traditional Cooking' by Biddy White Lennon.


You might  want to look at cookbooks from The Irish Country Womens Association or The Federation of Women’s Institutes of Northern Ireland.  I think will be a mix of traditional and modern recipes.  You can probably find them on Ebay.


For Scottish recipes I can recommend any of the Maw Broon's Cookbooks which are fun as they are printed to look like scrapbooks with hand written recipes and magazine clippings.



I hope you find something there which fulfills your needs.

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On 9/28/2020 at 7:24 AM, HelenMac said:

I would recommend...

Thank you so much for the recommendations! I ended finding a lovely first edition of "The Cookin Woman" and ended up getting "Forgotten Skills Of Cooking" which has been wonderful. It's incredible how many cookbooks there are among the Ballymaloe crew. And each one is so expansive, I can't imagine how they could have filled so many volumes?


Anyway, thank you, I'll definitely also look into the Scottish book. Curious if there's anything Welsh out there.

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  • 2 weeks later...

You might also like to check out books by Theodora FitzGibbon.  Back in the 70's & 80's she wrote a series called "A taste of ...." she covered Scotland, Ireland and Wales, then split England into regions.  She wrote other Irish and British cookbooks. You will have to look for second hand books apart from -  "The Pleasures of the Table: Rediscovering Theodora FitzGibbon / Donal Skehan" which was published in 2014 with colour photographs.  Looking at her page on Wikipedia her career choices were very similar to Elizabeth David.

I also discovered   "English Recipes & Tradional  Dishes Of Scotland, Wales & Ireland by Countess Morphy" who was an American, written back in 1935.  Apparently she gave cookery demonstrations in Selfridge's in London - one of which Elizabeth David attended.

Below are links where you will find a lot of tradional Welsh recipes.





For more modern Welsh cookbooks look at



or Amazon of course.   Some Welsh authors to look for are Annette Yates, Bobby Freeman, Gilli Davies and Thomas Kelly.
 There is a lot to look at!  Good hunting.

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