Not to be a buzz kill on this joyous St. Patrick’s Day, but I am going to be anyway.
Hopefully you are well into your third or fourth pint, or better yet 1/2 way down the bottle of Whiskey. If so this post won’t really make you want to put down your fork from eating those green mashed potatoes.
As a good Irish lass myself, I have always joined in the revelry of this holiday and often have thrown my own parties where I served up lots of green inspired dishes. The article below popped up on my radar today and enlightened me to a few facts I really did not know. It’s always good to know both sides of the story right? So order a shot of Jameson, put those shamrock glasses back on and take two minutes to read the article below. Your thoughts?
From Maria Godoy.
“Green food may mean party time in America, where St. Patrick’s Day has long been an excuse to break out the food dye. But in Ireland, where the Irish celebrate their patron saint on March 17, green food has bitter connotations that recall the nation’s darkest chapter, says historian Christine Kinealy.
The reason, Kinealy explains, is the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, which forced so many Irish to flee mass starvation in their homeland in search of better times in America and elsewhere. Those who stayed behind turned to desperate measures.
“People were so deprived of food that they resorted to eating grass,” Kinealy tells The Salt. “In Irish folk memory, they talk about people’s mouths being green as they died.”
At least 1 million Irish died in the span of six years, says Kinealy, the founding director ofIreland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. Which is why, for an Irishwoman like Kinealy, who hails from Dublin and County Mayo, the sight of green-tinged edibles intended as a joyous nod to Irish history can be jolting, she says.
“Before I came to America, I’d never seen a green bagel,” she says. “For Irish-Americans, they think of dyeing food green, they think everything is happy. But really, in terms of the famine, this is very sad imagery.”
Of course, Americans have long embraced St. Patrick’s Day traditions that might bemuse the folks back in Ireland, where festivities are a lot more subdued, Kinealy notes.
For instance, St. Paddy’s Day Parades? Those originated here in the late 1700s. (George Washington was known to give his Irish soldiers the day off so they could join the celebrations, she says.)
And that quintessential dish of the holiday, corned beef — it may be delicious, but it’s most definitely not Irish.
As Smithsonian.com noted last year, in Gaelic Ireland, cows were a symbol of wealth and a sacred animal, kept more for their milk than their meat — which was only consumed once an animal’s milking days were over. In the Irish diet, meat meant pork. It wasn’t until Britain conquered most of Ireland that Irish “corned beef” came into existence — to satisfy the beef-loving English.
“Ironically, the ones producing the corned beef, the Irish people, could not afford beef or corned beef for themselves,” Smithsonian notes.
Funny enough, the Irish didn’t learn to love corned beef until coming to America, where they picked up the taste from their Jewish neighbors in the urban melting pot of New York City.
But these days, even the Irish back in the homeland have come to accept this Irish-American dietary quirk, Kinealy says. As tourist season revs up and Americans head to the Emerald Isle to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day, “a lot of pubs in Ireland will offer corned beef because they know the tourists like it. It’s come full circle.”
Chapter 11 of my book is a Supper called “An Irish Seaside Supper”. It has absolutely nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day ;) However, during the photography session for this chapter, I did learn to pour the perfect pint. From what I remember it took quite a few takes, mostly because we were drinking the bad pours. We shot Guinness for the book but, in truth, I am a Murphy’s girl. What’s your fav Irish beer?
Share your St. Pattys day traditions, best recipes and stories! The Irish love to hear and tell a good story.
Erin Go Bragh!