On March 17th, better known as St. Patrick's Day, millions of people wear garbs of green, eat corned beef and cabbage, drink a pint of beer, and celebrate in good cheer. Oddly enough, the celebration has little to do with St. Patrick himself. Though it is a shame that the holiday has become so misconstrued, perhaps it is for the best. St. Patrick's Day has become a day of joy and fortune for many. To celebrate this year's St. Paddy's Day, bring these fun facts to your party and impress your friends with the lore of the leprechauns!
Did you know that shamrocks are edible? Yup, and they are gross. Go ahead. Dare your friends to try one. Although it is doubtful any ancient Celt went around gathering a shamrock salad for dinner, there is a tasty plant that is similar to the clover- wood sorrel. They taste refreshingly tart and are found on almost every continent. It is common for adults and youngsters to learn how to forage by collecting wood sorrel since it does not have any toxic look alikes; lucky for us.
Did you know that four leaf clovers are mutants? For every 10,000 three-leaf clovers, there is 1 four leaf clover. According to tradition, each leaf of a clover has meaning. The first leaf is for hope. The second leaf is for faith. The third leaf is love and the fourth is for luck. Imagine the insane luck of Shigeo Obara, the current Guinness World Record holder for a 21 leaf clover! This was the second time he has held the record for most leaves on a clover; the previous record being a 17 leaf clover.
This is a simple, yet tasty appetizer, certain to please most palates. Not only does it appear to have shamrocks, but is waves the colors of the Irish flag. As an alternative, you may use pickled red onions instead of scallions and red bell pepper.
1 lb smoked salmon
1/4 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1.5 oz wood sorrel
3 scallions, white ends only, sliced thin
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Arrange the salmon on a plate or bowl. Top with the red bell pepper, wood sorrel, and sliced scallions. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice as a dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
St. Patrick's Day, believe it or not, is celebrated worldwide. To make things even more interesting, we are all celebrating his death. It's as if we are happy that the guy died. That doesn't seem right, does it? Typically, we celebrate when people are born and the fact that they came into this life to do these great deeds, so perhaps we all should re-think this celebration...
- Ireland has held celebrations for St. Patrick's Day since the 1600s. However, their first St. Patrick's festival was held in 1996.
- Ireland has a week-long festival (just outside Dublin), yet it also holds the shortest (100 yard) St. Patrick's Day parade in the world (in Dripsey, Cork.)
- Queen Elizabeth used to fly shamrocks from Ireland to Great Britian, just to present bowls of the greenery to Irish Guards on St. Paddy's.
- Astronauts celebrate in space and apparently, they also create records at the same time.
- Japan has Saint Patrick's Day related events that span the whole month of March.
Traditional Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage
The best corned beef comes from the Irish city of Cork, but instead of asking for corned beef, ask for salt beef. If you ask for corned beef, you will probably get the spam-like minced and gellied beef, also known as bully beef. For those looking for the American version of corned beef (or salt beef in the UK), this traditional recipe is worth trying and it doesn't take much effort.
3 lbs corned (salt) beef brisket
2 carrots, roughly chopped
5 small red potatoes, halved
1 onion, quartered
1 small turnip, roughly chopped
3/4 cup malt vinegar
3/4 cup Guinness (or any other stout)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp dill seeds
1 tsp allspice
1 bay leaf
1 head of cabbage, cut into wedges
In a crockpot, toss in the carrots, potatoes, onion, and turnip. Next, add the vinegar and stout. Now, combine the spices in a pestle and mortar. Lightly crush the spices and then rub the mix into the meat. Place this on top of the vegetables then cover and cook on low for about 8 hours. Now add the cabbage wedges and cook for an additional 3 hours.
Ever wondered what got everyone binge drinking during the holiday? Blame the leprechauns with their tricks and free flowing Guinness!
Leprechauns are a type of fairy according to Irish folklore. Yet, somewhere along the lines, they must have bred with genies, because the have the magical power to grant up to three wishes if caught by a human. For those who don't want to end up tricked by a leprechaun trying to get away, you can settle on simply spotting one for good luck. Some have even gone so far that they set up cameras in the field in an effort to spot a wandering leprechaun.
Leprechauns are said to be simple cobblers who will resort to trickery when threatened. Otherwise, they laugh, drink, dance, and are merry. Leprechauns each have a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow nowadays and become ornery when their gold is threatened. Some say the pot of gold is actually treasure buried by the Danes who conquered most of Ireland in days long past.
A good ol' Irish leprechaun needs a break now and then with a pint of Guinness. Arther Guinness was the creator of Guinness beer over 250 years ago. According to Guinness(.com), at 34 years old, Arther signed a 9,000 year lease on an unused brewery for £100 (~$147 US.) As to why anyone in their right mind would purchase, let alone, offer a 9,000 year lease, we will never know.
Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes
There are many chocolate Guinness cupcake recipes are out there, but this one adds beets. It sounds gross, but trust me, you can't taste the beets at all. The beets and stout create a luscious moist cake, best enjoyed after the celebratory corned beef and cabbage.
2 3/4 oz cocoa powder
6 oz flour
2 tsp baking powder
8 oz sugar
8 oz beets, baked, peeled, and grated
3 1/2 oz Guinness (or any other stout)
3 1/2 oz vegetable oil
7 oz unsalted butter, softened
7 oz cream cheese
1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise with the seeds scraped out (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and sugar into a bowl. In a second bowl, mix the eggs, stout, and oil. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry (flour) mix and combine until just mixed.
Line your cupcake trays and pour the batter into each, filling no higher than 3/4 full. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the cupcakes are springy to the touch. Remove cupcakes from the oven and allow them to cool thoroughly.
Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese icing. Cream the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla seeds in a bowl until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the mixture is stiff, but still spreadable.
Once the cupcakes are cool, spread the icing and decorate however you please.
Store the cupcakes in an air-tight container.
I hope you have enjoyed these traditional Irish recipes with a modern twist. Share the lore with others and be merry on this day. And remember, Saint Patrick was British, snakes never existed in Ireland to begin with, and lucky horseshoes have nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day!
"May you have all the happiness
and luck that life can hold—
And at the end of all your rainbows
may you find a pot of gold."