Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Philadelphia's Irish Memorial, located at Front & Chestnut Sts.

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17 around the world in honor of Ireland's patron saint.     March 17 marks the day that St. Patrick died, which is not terribly festive, but the paperwork dating back to a then-obsure British baby boy born in 387 C.E. is not particularly reliable.  If they'd known he would grow up to be a prominent Irish bishop and achieve canonization, doubtless they would have kept better records.  In Ireland, the day is a both a solemn one, commemorated as a holy day of obligation as well as a festive celebration.  Outside of Ireland, people generally dispense with the obligation part.

Philly may not dye its river green like Chicago,

but it certainly has plenty of St. Patrick's Day spirit.  Irish pubs abound in this town, the Parade is always a good time, and the Hibernian spirit is alive and well here in the City of Brotherly Love.

True confession:  I was nearly arrested last St. Patrick's Day last year on my way to a family party--I was carrying a beer as I walked to my friend's house a couple of blocks away.  An officer of the law stopped me, and informed me that I was not permitted to walk around with an open container.  I looked skeptical, and more importantly, did not want to surrender my Victory Golden Monkey Ale. I said, "Nonsense, I am a Mother on my way to a family party in my neighborhood."   He said, (quite politely, I must admit) "Ma'am, you are going to have to get rid of the bottle or I am going to have to cite you for violating the law."  I said, "But they aren't going to have beer this good at the party!".  He said, "Well, you can drink it all now, I guess."   He really was an incredibly decent chap.  I took a couple of healthy swigs and reluctantly deposited the bottle in the trash.  My husband pretended not to know me and my kids gawked.

But good beer aside, we Philly Food Lovers are not terribly interested in the parades or pub crawls. Rather, our focus is on the food.

Having grown up in an Irish-American household, corned beef on St. Patrick's Day was an absolute, and it continues to grace my table every year.   I'll be picking up the fixings for this annual feast at Reading Terminal Market.  If only Molly Malloy's were opened this week, I could start my own little celebration while provisioning.  (More to come on this gastro pub, which will be opening soon in Reading Terminal Market's Beer Garden, a welcome addition indeed.)

The food that we've discovered which seems to be truly unique to Philly and its observance of St. Patrick's Day is the Irish Potato (the candy, not the tuber).  These oh-so-sweet coconut infused confections are relatively easy to make, recipe here.  But if you prefer to leave it to the pros, head to the PA General Store.  They keep Irish Potatoes in stock year round.

Irish or not, we wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day--and advise you to keep the open containers off the streets!

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