One of my good friends (whom I actually met traveling through Southeast Asia) is a brilliantly funny Irish lass. I decided to pick her brain last night as I was preparing some posts for St. Patrick’s Day- you know, to get the “insider” scoop on what is going on over in the Emerald Isle for this festive holiday. I wanted to get down to some true Irish traditions surrounding St. Patrick’s Day, so I asked my good friend Anne Marie of Cork, Ireland.
Our Facebook chat conversation went something like this:
Me: Do y’all celebrate St. Patty’s Day over there, or is that just romanticized American thinking? AM: You might not like this but.. this is doing the rounds in Ireland… Apparently this was a sign in Dublin airport this week. Me: Haha- I Love that! I’m so ignoramus! So, y’all DO celebrate St. Patrick’s day, right? Is it big there, like Mardi Gras is in Louisiana?
AM: Yep we call it Paddys Day. It’s monday and we all have the day off so most people go out drinking the Sunday night and get pissed.
Me: Wow 30k! Huge! We have a big parade in Baton Rouge, LA on Saturday every year (the weekend before Paddy’s day)- it’s like Mardi Gras. We close the streets down, everyone is drinking by 8 AM. Good fun. I’m going this year (home for my baby shower tomorrow) can’t drink the milk punch or green beer, though. Sad.
Me: Do y’all do green beer?
AM: That’s me finally kissin the Blarney stone in cork at the weekend! !!Living here 13.5 years and never kissed it!!
Me: Oh awesome! What are other “Irish foods?” Bangers and mash? Or is that more UK? Fish and chips– but also UK. Haha- doing a post on Irish food for Friday.
AM: Bacon and cabbage or bacon and colcannon.
AM: Have you ever heard of The Rose of Tralee? Well this is Paddys Day last year in Sydney and we jumped on the Sydney Roses float!!!! I was parading with the Central Coast hurling and Camogie club in Sydney Australia. They have well over 50 Irish in the club!!
The girls dressed as Irish Sheep! Oh and the sticks we are holding are called hurls or hurleys used for mens hurling and women’s camogie field game.
Then the conversation turned a little personal… so….
As we gear up for St. Patrick’s Day, let’s talk about some fun Irish food…
It’s hard to describe how soda bread tastes. It’s softer than regular bread. I didn’t know a thing about soda bread until I decided to buy some and then research a bit about it.
The main difference from most bread recipes is that sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is used as a leavening agent instead of the more common yeast. Ingredients include flour, bread soda, salt and buttermilk. The buttermilk, containing lactic acid, reacts with the baking soda, forming tiny carbon dioxide bubbles. Other ingredients like egg, butter, nuts and raisons may be added.
The loaf I bought from Merriddee’s has raisons and rye in it. It’s delicious. I can’t stop eating it.
Soda bread was introduced to America by early European settlers as a cheap and quick version. Pearl Ash (potassium carbonate) was used as a leavening agent (the precursor to baking soda). These breads appeared in Europe in the mid-19th century when bicarbonate of soda first became available.
Shepherd’s pie, or cottage pie, is a meat pie with a mashed potato crust. In the late 18th century, potatoes were introduced as an affordable crop for the poor and were used in cottage pie.
The term “cottage” was meant to denote modest dwellings for rural people. The dish was born as a means to use leftover meat of any kind. Mutton or lamb was often used instead of beef, hence the name shepherd’s pie, which was introduced in 1877.
I, personally, love shepherd’s pie (who wouldn’t love baked mashed potatoes with beef or lamb!) and have had some good servings in Ireland and here in the U.S. I plan on heading over to Family Wash in Nashville soon to try their famous lamb and beef version!
Other Irish Food Favorites….
Fish and Chips
Bangers and Mash
Irish Coffee (so- not a food, but you DO consume it!)