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7:33 p.m. - 2013-03-16
Red, White, Blue and Green

In true St Patrick's Day fashion the nice spring warmth curdled and there's a nasty icy wet snow coming down out there. And according to Mick the weather expert there's yet another big wintery storm due in on Tuesday. So much for an early spring. Go screw, Punxsutawney Phil.

Went to (where else?) Shoprite earlier. I try to avoid the place on the weekend, too many amateurs, but my lovely man bought a corned beef barely big enough for one and I am feeding a smallish crowd tomorrow and want leftovers. Just on the corned beef. My guys refuse to eat boiled cabbage more than once a year. Thus the ratio for tomorrow's boiling pot is:

head of cabbage. A small head at that.
12oz of baby carrots. I know they're not 'baby' carrots, they're a super sweet variety of regular carrots peeled and shaped by water jet, but we like them despite the subterfuge.
1 large Spanish onion.
3lbs of red bliss potatoes with the skins left on. (Adds color and a bit of nutrient value.)
2 green bell peppers. Mostly for flavor.
2 bay leaves.
A handful of peppercorns.
4 heaping tablespoons of minced garlic.
A healthy shot of apple cider vinegar.
And NINE (yes, 9!) pounds of corned beef.

What can I say? We like corned beef. Monday's dinner will be reuben sandwiches. (Corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on rye bread with mustard and 1,000 island dressing.) A more traditional use for corned beef than this faux-Irish thing. The actual Irish who live in Ireland have never heard of corned beef, nor do they celebrate St Patrick's Day. It was the immigrant Jews from Poland who brought corned beef to America. And the immigrant Irish co-opted it a generation or two later when nostalgia and being poor of pocket sent them searching for a decent stand-in for their version of bacon when wanting to host a holiday for their patron saint. Growing up in a predominantly 2nd generation mutt mix of Irish/Italian/Polish/Jewish people where everybody's stuff slopped over into everybody else's tomorrow's menu makes a lot of sense. My growing up years included such oddities as green bagels and polka music being played at Italian wedding receptions. I like it. No need to be stuffy here in the land of classmates named Annika O'Malley and Maria-Annunciata Lefkovitz.

I briefly considered going into the city for the parade. But even if Mick were amenable (which he wasn't) this would leave Mick's parents without a place to go for the holiday. You marry into a family named O'Hara and you'd best get your corned beef and cabbage on. MIL and FIL will be here tomorrow in head-to-foot green and tweed, shamrocks on their lapels, and soda bread in hand.

Makes me laugh when I think about my maternal grandmother and her horror of this yearly schmaltz-fest for the Auld Country. My Chanel grandmother grew up on a sod farm in Cork with 14 brothers and sisters crammed into a two-room shed, bullied and beaten by her father and by the sadistic nuns who vented their sexually frustrated spleens on the poorest kids of the parish. My grandmother had her ears pierced at 7 and being unable to afford earrings the holes were threaded with bits of knitting wool. A nun who was furious with my grandmother's refusal to be meeching and apologetic enough over her family's poverty ripped the wool loops through my grandmother's earlobes. Just yanked them down until the skin gave way and split my grandmother's earlobes in two. They healed, but ever after Grandma wore screw-back earrings, her lobes were too scarred to pierce again. She told me once that was the day she decided she'd immigrate to America. Needless to say she loathed St Patrick's Day. She hated everything to do with that misty-eyed, leprechaun, Guinness swilling, shamrocky Erin go Bragh stuff. The American Irish knew squat about what it was like to grow up poor and hungry, terrorized by the clergy, hemmed in by the long memories of the village and your family's reputation. Feh. Sure, sure, let the immigrants' kids and their kids etc, etc blow the bagpipes and wear their tartan and tweed and Aryan sweaters, let them drink green beer and wear 'Kiss Me I'm Irish' badges. Whatever. Just don't ask her to join in. Her Irish roots and memories held nothing but pain and shame.

So I guess tomorrow I'll be cooking a wholly American dinner. Jewish Pole by origin, adapted and adopted by another immigrant clan (the Irish), dressed up and seasoned by yet another with the addition of green peppers and garlic (the Italians), cooked on a stove made in India and installed by Mexicans, served on Danish dishes atop a tablecloth made in China.

Yeah, it's American. Served up in celebration of the Irish but truly encompassing everybody.

Slainte mhaith! ~LA


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