My Perfect Irish-American St. Patrick’s Day

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Image of corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes before cooked. Taken by Lorraine Bauer.

St. Patrick’s Day was made to honor St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. After the Great Potato Famine in Ireland during the mid-1840s, many Irish Catholics immigrated to America. These immigrants became alienated for their lack of education and unfamiliar accents, but every year on March 17th, Irish-Americans celebrate their heritage. St. Patrick’s day is now a holiday celebrated across the country, complete with parades, leprechauns, rainbows, and chocolate coins. 

Like most Irish-Americans, St. Patrick’s Day has always been a big deal for my family. It’s a comforting time where we can all come together and celebrate with Irish foods and Celtic music.

A traditional St. Patrick’s Day consists of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes, and soda bread. Though corned beef is often associated with St. Patrick’s Day, the people of Ireland typically weren’t the main consumers of the product; they were, however,  the main producers, but because of high demand in the surrounding areas, most Irish people couldn’t afford it. When Irish immigrants fled to America due to the Potato Famine, they were able to earn more money than they did in their homeland, giving them the capability to afford this specialty, which is why it’s a St. Patrick’s Day staple. Corned beef is most commonly paired with boiled cabbage and potatoes, which by itself may sound bland, but when mixed with the heavily salted corned beef, they balance each other perfectly.

Another Irish favorite that found its origins because of the Great Potato Famine is my personal favorite, Irish soda bread. The name itself is a bit misleading because “Irish” soda bread doesn’t originate from Ireland. The recipe was first made by Native Americans pre- colonization. It is now associated with The Emerald Isle because it was adopted by the Irish during the 1800s. The ingredients were cheap and many people in Ireland were living in poverty due to British Imperialism.

Dinner
Image of prepared St. Patrick’s Day dinner. Taken by Maeve Bauer.

Though it might be too late to eat this on St. Patrick’s Day, these festive foods can be eaten year round. If you’re interested in making any of these, the recipes are listed below.

Corned beef and cabbage 

Soda Bread