Food should be colorful and inviting

Grocery shopping in a new country is always a treat for me. I honestly believe that the food and eating habits of a country reveal insights into its culture and people. So far in Ireland, I’ve managed to shop at Tesco, the large UK-based grocery chain; Dunnes and SuperValu, both Irish-owned companies; and Aldi, a German grocery chain.

Drogheda Farmers’ Market – my lifesaver!

If I had to summarize the Irish based solely on what I’ve found at their food shops, here is verdict: They love beige and yellow food. By this I mean breads, cakes, crackers, cookies, potatoes and various breaded and fried proteins. In fact, about 75% of the frozen food sections at all of the aforementioned grocery stores is comprised of breaded chicken (sticks, fingers, patties) and breaded fish (same as the chicken). They love them some chicken nuggets, so they do. You can buy them in the form of smiley face circles, chunky chunks and even “Southern Fried,” which, by the looks of it, would make Colonel Sanders roll over in his grave.  

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So gorgeous you almost want to cry

The produce section leaves much to be desired. A typical vegetable selection includes bell peppers, two kinds of lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, garlic, a few herbs, green beans and broccoli, most of which looks like its seen better days. There are some highlights, like gigantic turnips and several varieties of potatoes; I am certain those turnips would make an absolutely fantastic mash and am plotting a turnip champ for a future dinner party. But for the most part, after moving from a city where you can get every variety of vegetable and fruit, it’s been disappointing.

Beautiful artisan breads at Drogheda Farmers’ Market

So you can imagine my sheer giddiness when I went to the Drogheda Farmers’ Market this morning and saw a wealth of colorful fruit and vegetables, as well as displays of fresh-baked breads, artisan hummus, handmade Italian pastas and sauces and a mobile creperie. It’s not the produce Mecca that is the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, but to me it’s just perfect. Overflowing on the tables was leafy green cabbage, arugula, blood-red tomatoes, fava beans (known as broad beans here), spring peas, garlic, flat leaf parsley, grapefruits, plums, avocados and more. I had been so underwhelmed by the produce at the grocery shops that this encounter nearly gave me heart palpitations. Needless to say, I am in love.

As soon as I got home I grabbed the exquisite organic bell peppers, onions, scallions and avocados and got to work. The result: A batch of delicious and healthy [Irish] pork fajitas. I hope you’ll enjoy these as much as I did!

An easy and healthy meal to enjoy any time

Fabulous Pork Fajitas
(Serves 4)

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
½ large yellow onion, sliced into strips
Fajita Spice Mix (see recipe below), or a packet of your favorite fajita spice mix
1 lb pork loin, cut into strips (you can use chicken, beef or lamb if desired)
8 flour tortillas, warmed
1 large avocado, sliced
2 spring onions, sliced thinly (garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Cook the bell peppers and onions, stirring occasionally, for about 6-8 minutes or until tender (but not completely soft). Just before taking off the heat, add ½ of the spice mixture and toss to coat. Put the cooked bell peppers and onions into a bowl and set aside.

In the same pan, still over medium heat, add the pork, plus the rest of the spice mixture. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until completely cooked through. Toss the pepper/onion mix back into the pan with the pork and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

To assemble: On each plate, lay out two tortillas. Add about a ¼ cup of the pork and pepper mixture, then top with avocado and spring onions. Bring the sides of the tortilla together and insert a toothpick to keep it into place. You can serve with hot sauce and salsa if you’d like!

Fajita Spice Mix

1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon cumin

Mix all the spices together in a dry bowl and it’s ready to use!