The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Irish Food
Ireland is known for its hearty and comforting dishes. Potatoes, meat, and cheese are all common ingredients in its cuisine. Four of the five countries with the most similar food are located in Northern Europe, so their climates are relatively cool. In addition, all these countries have a lot of coastline, so fish are included in many of their typical meals.
- United Kingdom ruled Ireland for many years and their close proximity has fostered many culinary similarities between the two nations. Ingredients like potatoes, carrots, and dairy products feature prominently in both cuisines. Traditional dishes like roast dinners, shepherd’s pie, and the iconic fish and chips are commonly eaten in both nations. Additionally, the their typical breakfast is similar as well.
- France is another predominately Catholic country that borders the Atlantic Ocean. Like Ireland, Brittany has many Celtic people. In France, dishes like rustic cassoulet and coq au vin are similar to Irish stews. Moreover, the French passion for cheeses mirrors Ireland’s heavy consumption of dairy products. Moreover, like most European nations, both have a strong tradition of bread-making.
- Finland and Ireland both embrace simple yet nourishing dishes to combat their colder climates. The Finnish love for fish, particularly salmon, mirrors Ireland’s affinity for seafood. Potatoes are central to both cuisines as well. Moreover, the use of grains like barley and oats makes their ingredients especially similar.
- Sweden‘s food culture shares many parallels with Ireland’s. Both nations appreciate the value of preserved foods. Swedish dishes like smoked salmon and meatballs resonate with Ireland’s fondness for fish, pork, and beef. Offals are commonly eaten in both cuisines as well.
- Denmark is yet another Scandinavian country on this list. Although Denmark is not an island, it has an abundant amount of coastline like Ireland. There’s an appreciation for baked goods in both countries. Denmark’s “smørrebrød,” open-faced sandwiches with a variety of toppings, resembles Irish sandwiches. Additionally, both nations have a love for hearty stews.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Irish Food
Unsurprisingly, the countries with the least similar food to Ireland are all located in close proximity to the equator, so their climates are much hotter. This affects what type of crops are grown in these countries. These five countries are much less developed than Ireland as well.
- Chad is a landlocked, predominately Muslim country in Africa. Sorghum and millet are the two most commonly consumed grains there. These crops are well adapted to the Sahel’s harsh hot and arid climate. Peanuts and sesame seeds are also common parts of the country’s cuisine.
- South Sudan is another country in Africa where sorghum is one of the staple foods, however the country eats a lot of cassava as well. Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in the country. However, they are not completely different. Both Ireland and South Sudan eat a significant amount of beef.
- Solomon Islands is a Melanesian archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean. Unlike in Ireland, sweet potatoes, yams, and taro are all commonly eaten ingredients there. In addition, its people eat a variety of unique tropical fruits.
- Cambodia has the least similar food to Ireland in Asia. The Cambodian diet is heavily based on rice. Unlike in Ireland, Cambodian cuisine makes use of a wide range of herbs and spices, including lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves, to create a unique flavor profile. Furthermore, many of the country’s Buddhists avoid eating meat.
- Democratic Republic of Congo is another African country on this list. Cassava is the dominant staple food in the country. The most commonly eaten meat in Congo is freshwater fish, whereas chicken and pork are more popular in Ireland. Furthermore, in contrast to Ireland, their diet has little meat in it.
Ireland’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Pork, Chicken
Fruit: Banana, Apple
Vegetable: Carrot, Tomato
Starch: Wheat, Potato
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.