Yes, I Would Like It Cut In Half
The national food of Ireland is not stew, potatoes, or even bacon and cabbage. It's a Cuisine de France baguette with chicken. In Irish it's: “A Chicken Roll”.
It's eaten at any time, though in Cork, many prefer the breakfast roll in the morning (this will appear in another post). Uniquely in Ireland, there are delis in petrol stations and supermarkets. These are not fancy delis, as you'll not get feta-stuffed baby peppers in olive oil. Or anything other than grated catering cheese. These delis serve beige food. But when you're doing an early morning drive up to Limerick on the N20, it's precisely what the doctor ordered.
There's a ritual involved. And the training to make the rolls is extensive. On top of that, some places are better than others (shout out to Dano's Supervalu in Mallow). You grab your baguette and hand it over, saying, “chicken roll, please.” Though now I'm vegetarian, I used to have butter, coleslaw, plain chicken, and cheese. They squash it in. You have it cut in half (only serial killers don't). Finally, it's wrapped tighter than a sprained ankle, and you take the historic walk around the crisps and drinks aisle.
The chicken is a breaded breast, and I don't know what they do, but it is never dry and chewy. It has to be eaten on your lap, and you will lose some of it to gravity. There's a legend that when the US Army does its transfers in Shannon airport, a few of them escape down to the nearest petrol station for a chicken roll. Never mind the rolls, delis in petrol stations don't exist in England. At least not to this level and calibre. When visiting my parents, I miss getting food like The Chicken Roll. Service stations along the motorways are bland, unimaginative things. And they are certainly no patch on Barak Obama Plaza (oh yeah, real place).
When visiting Ireland, you have to do the petrol station deli. Don't go fancy; don't be tempted by any posh Dublin 4 shenanigans. It is an experience. It is a must-see. Get your chicken roll and sample Ireland's national dish. #entrance
Beir bua agus beannacht.