What defines Irish taste?
Before posing such a question it is important to note that notion of ‘taste’ is a construct. What we might see as a good or bad taste can be seen differently in different cultures. Again, taste is fluid, it’s not a fixed set or codes and conventions – it changes over time. Do the Irish have good taste? Well, that depends on who you ask, it also depends on where in Ireland you place your focus. In 2016, the notion of ‘taste’ has never been so changeable. What one might of seen at the pinnacle of sophistication and cultural capital a few years ago could be seen as vulgar by today’s standards. But good and bad taste aside, it there a distinct sense of Irish taste? It can be argued that Irish taste is a marriage of utilitarianism and aesthetics. This duality has contributed to modern day concepts of Irishness and taste. As an island nation on the fringe of Europe we enjoy an influx of global tourists curious about our little country – some even stay here permanently. Up until recently Ireland was a largely homogenous insular state. However, today, we have shifted and moulded into a contemporary European player. In regards to fashion many Irish people tend to play it safe, they apply a conservative approach to dressing. This could stem from a fear of judgement from peers – as we all know, Irish people can be quietly judgemental. Up until recently the catholic church played a part in how people dressed themselves, but as the churches power waned, so did people’s tastes. In recent years more and more people are pushing the boat, experimenting with looks and rejecting perceived conventions of taste. Ireland’s weather tends to play a huge part in fashion – although some of us do tend to disregard rain & cold on night out. Up until recently many Irish people looked to the UK or USA for fashion inspiration, but things have shifted. The influx of Scandanavian high street and high end brands has played a huge part in Irish style. The Scandinavians also embrace the marriage of utilitarianism and aesthetic. Perhaps that’s why Scandi style is so popular here. With Ireland’s prosperous economy tastes have shifted rapidly in the past two decades, this can be seen most notably in our vastly changing food market. Never before in Ireland has there been such emphasis on food culture. Nouveau Irish cuisine has taken centre stage in this culinary revolution. Restaurants such as Fade Street Social and food stores like Avoca and Fallon & Byrne have cemented Ireland as a leading culinary destination. Again, this marriage of utilitarianism and aesthetic comes to play – locally sourced produce is prepared and presented in aesthetically pleasing way. The staple of meat and two still remain but in a new and contemporary guise. In sense Irish taste can be seen as an amalgamation of factors – heritage, climate, resources, European/global identity and practicality. We dress (most of the time) fashionably yet functionally, we’re moving towards self sustainable food, we cherry pick styles but with an Irish spin and we still incorporate our heritage.