by: Imen McDonnell

I will never forget my first St. Patrick’s Day experience after moving to Ireland. Everything in our little village was closed on the day; the post office, the bank, a good number of shops, about the only place with open doors was the church, and I soon realized that it was not only a national holiday, but a religious one as well.

My mother-in-law, Peggy, invited us to the farmhouse for dinner that day, and I could hardly contain my excitement about having my first authentic Irish corned beef and cabbage Paddy’s day celebration! We sat down at the dinner table while Peggy brought out generous plates of roasted pork loin with mashed potatoes covered in a white creamy sauce accompanied by a bit of boiled cabbage on the side. I was stunned. Where was the corned beef, and why on earth was there so little cabbage?

Of course, I felt it was necessary to explain to my new family that in America, everyone eats corned beef and cabbage and drinks green beer from morning until night on St. Patrick’s Day. My father-in-law looked at me like I was mad and then calmly reasoned, “we do not eat corned beef, t’wouldn’t be the nicest at all.” I could tell by the look in his eye that corned beef was not held in the same esteem as the beautiful chunk of pork in front of me. I felt both utterly surprised and somewhat embarrassed at once.

irish food 300x300 An Authentic Irish HolidayThe truth is, there really isn’t a special meal in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day. Parades, yes. Parties filled with libations, yes. Shamrock-wearing, yes. But, food wise, at least in rural Ireland, we all just sit down to a nice meal which can be anything from roast pork to a T-bone steak, but never, ever, corned beef.

Over the years, our Paddy’s Day celebration has evolved. What I like to do in our own farm kitchen each year is put together a lovely supper “tea” in the evening to include a spread of cured meats, salads, cheeses and baked bread with perhaps a glass or two of dry craft cider. Our banquet ends up being a picnic of sorts, instead of a big heavy meal; we prefer to celebrate this important holiday with a selection of the season’s best handmade Irish foods. Of course, I especially love to share my latest farm-to-fork artisan producer discoveries with the family as well.Chutney1 150x150 An Authentic Irish Holiday

This year, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a fine feast of Burren Smokehouse Salmon, beautiful Ardrahan, Daru and Gubbeen cheeses with lashings of Ballymaloe relish on chunks of freshly baked brown soda bread. For dessert, my rhubarb crumble topped off with farm fresh whipped cream.

And, with a menu like that, who needs corned beef and cabbage!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Imen McDonnell’s story can be found here. You may be familiar with her recipe for Baked Irish Porridge which is featured with Kilbeggan Irish Porridge. Please check out {farmette} to read more stories and recipes by Imen!

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Comments ( 9 )

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An Authentic Irish Holiday | The Gourmet Food Blog « The Net Gourmet added these pithy words on Mar 16 12 at 3:09 am

Having lived in Ireland all of my life I cringe when I read this kind of article. It is Stereotyping of the worst kind. Yes the writer has mentioned some items which can be found and eaten in Ireland, but realistically people are more likely to simply have tea and toast and if they are really going to pull out all the stops, they will have a full fried breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, tomato, mushrooms, soda bread, potato bread or toast.

I often think that visitors to our wonderful country are shown a twee picture of life here, all caravans and carts, horses galloping along beaches and people sitting in bars drinking Guinness and playing the fiddle. Yes there is beautiful scenery and elements of these things, but it's 2012 for goodness sake. We have moved on.

Do you think we all think the height of American Cuisine is McDonalds or TGI Friday?

Jai Kennedy added these pithy words on Mar 10 12 at 4:21 am

Jai, why are you moaning? I don't know what you mean? Im Irish and Im from the country too. I agree that growing up we didn't really have a Paddys Day meal as such. Most likely a big fry for brekkie was the highlight.

What I dont understand is that this American lady agrees with you but you still say you cringe at her article? She is basically saying that she was misinformed about Irishness before she moved to Ireland and now that she lives there she realises that people just like to eat a nice meal on Paddys Day, if they can, and its not necessarily corned beef. Its basically just a day off where people get pissed in town or spend the day with their family. Just because she thought that we eat corned beef and cabbage on Paddys day you have to cringe and have a moan! Corned beef and ca

Corned beef and cabbage with white sauce is lovely…What does that have to do with TGI Fridays?!

I think youre just a moaner…which proves to me that you have indeed lived in Ireland your whole life!

Keiran in China added these pithy words on Mar 14 12 at 2:03 am

Stereotyping of the worst kind! hahaha…stereotyping of the worst kind would saying something like "Germans are Nazis"…I really don't think that saying Irish people like to eat corned beef and cabbage on Paddys Day is "the worst kind" of anything…drama queen of the highest degree or what!?!

Jambo added these pithy words on Mar 14 12 at 2:21 am

In reply to Jai Kennedy-
You seemed to have missed the point of the piece, which is that in Ireland, there is not necessarily a special "stereotypical" meal for Paddy's Day as many people around the world presume. On our farm, we have a big dinner every afternoon because people work hard and it's the tradition…it is no different on St. Patrick's Day which is why I specifically mention that there isn't a special meal…and especially not corned beef and cabbage. In the evening for our supper we have a picnic style meal, a very simple celebration of Irish foods that are readily available throughout Ireland and at Dean and Deluca as well. Regards, Imen McDonnell

Imen McDonnell added these pithy words on Mar 14 12 at 6:40 am

Geez Jai, that is such a rude comment. She's saying what her family does, not what all families do. Plus, I think she stated clearly that the celebration in Ireland does not involve a particular special meal, as it does in America. I think you missed the point altogether and if you don't want to read about special foods, you should stay away from food blogs.

Liza M. added these pithy words on Mar 14 12 at 7:39 am

Someone has no reading comprehension at all! Her article is an attempt to explain to people that we don't eat corned beef and cabbage on Paddys day necessarily. She says that its a family day that people like to spend together.

Stereotyping of the worst kind! hahaha…stereotyping of the worst kind would saying something like "Germans are Nazis"…I really don't think that saying Irish people like to eat corned beef and cabbage on Paddys Day is "the worst kind" of anything…drama queen of the highest degree or what!?!

Imen, I love your blog. Im an Irish bloke living in China and I've been learning to cook some Irish foods from you and a couple of other Irish bloggers. Great blog, Ill buy your book next time Im home. My significant other is American and she thinks its great that I know how to cook all these Irish dishes. I haven't told her that half of them are from an American lady on the internet! Shes happy enough to think they are all my Mums recipes :)

*note to the person who wont publish my comments, this is the fourth time I have tried to defend this lady and you wont publish my bloody comments…If you are going to delete my opinion for a fourth time I would appreciate an email informing my why you are doing it. Thanks.

Jambo added these pithy words on Mar 15 12 at 5:19 am

Growing up in Ireland, we never ate a particular meal but we did always have a nice family meal together as were celebrating our national holiday and it was a day when the whole family was off work and school. It would usually begin with an Irish fry with all the trimmings, black and white pudding, brown bread and lots of sausages and rashers. Sometimes I would persuade my day to buy Superquinn's green sausages, they turn golden when they are fried anyway. Imen, I think this is a great description of an Irish St Patrick's Day feast, and you're right, the first time I heard anyone talk of cornbeef and cabbage was when I moved to the U.S. In Ireland it's more traditional to eat a lovely joint of bacon and cabbage with steaming spuds in their jackets with a knob of butter and a side of creamy parsley sauce. Smoked salmon was another family favorite usually a treat on a speacial occasion.

La Feile Padraig Shona duit!

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