Imagine this: You’re a merchant traveling through the hills of Ireland during the Middle Ages, and you’re tired and thirsty-;so you stop by a pub to rest your feet and have a drink. The word ‘pub’ is short for ‘public house’, and they were originally establishments that did not require membership. During the Middle Ages, the rich belonged to private clubs, but pubs in Ireland and elsewhere were the domain of the working class.

The pub’s history is full of lore and culture. The first pubs were built of rough-hewn wood and stone, with large fire pits and hanging lamps. You could get a tankard of ale at a pub, but you could also get basic food and hardware essentials. Pubs were welcoming, warm places where the working person could sing, relax, socialize and tell stories. During the 19th century, Irish pubs were declared illegal under British rule. The fiercely independent Irish kept them open anyway, and Ireland’s pubs became gathering places for the resistance movement.

The welcoming atmosphere and boozy charm of the pub is still popular today, and Irish-style pubs are built in places like downtown La Crosse WI. Some stick to more traditional d├ęcor, but some are designed to cater to more modern tastes, with large-screen TVs, pool tables, and premium sound systems.

Traditional food served in pubs is usually some kind of slowly-cooked stew, or pies filled with vegetables and meat. Pasties (stew in a thick crust) or shepherd’s pie (meat covered in baked mashed potatoes) are also quite common fare. Some pubs sell old standbys like steak-and-kidney pie or bangers and mash.

Today’s modern pubs have gone international, adding foods such as curries, hamburgers, lasagna and chili to their menus. Modern pub fare includes bar staples such as fried cheese sticks, potato skins and shrimp baskets. The evolution of pub cuisine from working-class food to world-class fare can be seen firsthand in restaurant/bar combinations called gastropubs. As long as people in downtown La Crosse WI demonstrate a need to belly up to the bar and place an order, there will be pubs serving traditional and new kinds of food and drink. Visit www.dublinsquarepub.com for more information!

 

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