St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Monday this year. Not the best day of the week for a formal celebration, but I do plan to share a pint or two in honor of the patron saint of Ireland.
I like to think of St. Patrick’s Day as a go-between holiday. It’s kind of a going-away party for winter and an early welcome wagon for spring. It breaks up the doldrums of winter, and it gives us non-Irish a reason to get together.
For some reason, I have distinct memories of many St. Patrick’s Day celebrations compared to other holidays.
As a kid, I remember the novelty of getting a green bagel, and the un-explainable flavor of a Shamrock Shake. I remember homemade corned beef being really good, but the smell of it cooking when I was in junior high turning me as green as a clover. In college, the bar that I worked at was famous for something that my friend Dave called “boiled dinner.” Dave was the only decent Saab mechanic within a hundred miles, and he would start getting excited for “boiled dinner” around Valentines Day. He was always getting patrons excited for boiled corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes, making sure our small-town watering hole was packed on the night of the 17th. One year we stayed home, and a patriotic American-Irish ski buddy made us his version of Irish dinner as he had learned it in culinary school. Flabbergasted about what the supermarket had supplied for seasoning in the corned beef kit I bought, he showed up with a highly hyped, homemade bouquet garni. It was a bundle of hand-selected seasonings tied in cheesecloth that created a savory satchel to flavor the beef boil. Despite my up and coming chef friend’s best efforts, cooking his seasoned supper still stunk up the place something awful.
Today, Guinness gardens, jiggers of Jameson, and four-leafed clover face paint are less important to me than perhaps they once were.
My Shamrock shake days are probably over and I highly doubt I will be able to find a green bagel unless I make one myself. I take a more home-bodied approach to St. Patrick’s Day, leaving the parades, pipers, and festivities to be enjoyed by others. The one way I do enjoy celebrating is with a cylindrical spin on the corned beef classic – the Corned Beef and Cabbage Egg Roll. Corned beef, wilted cabbage, cream cheese, and a sliver of Swiss cheese get rolled in a wonton wrapper and quickly fried in duck fat on the side burner of my grill. This hand-held shillelagh of flavor is a fantastic snack to serve on St. Patrick’s Day or any time you are feeling a little bit Irish.