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St Patrick ate only health food like cereals and fish

Saint Patrick probably ate fare similar to today's pricey health foods such as cereal, fish and seaweed, according to new research.

Food historian Regina Sexton said records kept by monks showed that St Patrick most likely drew his sustenance from cereals and dairy produce such as sour milk, flavoured curd mixtures and a variety of soft and hard cheeses.

"It is safe to say that obesity was not a problem in those days, and that the fare was seasonal, wholesome and modest by today's standards," said Sexton of University College Cork.

Having arrived in Ireland as a slave after what was probably a cold and hungry journey from Britain, the future saint most likely snacked on wet preparations like porridge, gruel and meal pastes.

Other culinary delights he could choose from included hen and goose eggs, honey, curds, seaweeds and apples, which he could garnish with wild garlic or watercress.

Salmon, trout and eel or hand-cured pork were also on fifth-century Irish menus, while flat breads made from oats, barley, a little rye and some of the more exclusive wheat, added some bulk.

hnews@herald.ie