IMG_8330Saint Patrick’s Day is a day of celebration and feast, named for the most commonly recognized patron Saints of Ireland. For Christians, the day commemorates the arrival of Christianity to Ireland, but St. Paddy’s Day has become a celebration of Irish culture. Marked by festivals, parades, green attire, church services, and lifting of lent related restrictions, it’s a wonderful day to enjoy the classic dishes of Ireland.

Corned beef and cabbage while often associated with Irish cuisine and St. Paddy’s Day cooking, is actually more of an Irish-American dish. It’s not considered an Irish national dish. Irish cuisine is influenced by crops grown and animals farmed in its temperate climate. The introduction of the potato in the 16th century heavily influenced Irish cuisine. Few meals are considered complete without the addition of potatoes.

Ireland is known for its many pubs and its popular pub culture. With a population of 3.6 million and 10,500 pubs, the “public house” has been considered the center of social life. Historically, the “Publican” was in charge of the pub and he was a leading figure in the community. The reputation of a local bartender, who knows everyone’s name and can be counted on as the community psychologist, stems from the role of the Publican. He knew everyone, he knew their story, and could be counted on for advice, or an understanding ear. He was also known to resolve conflicts and keep order.

Pubs were traditionally a place to drink and gather. “Pub Grub” gained popularity in British pubs in the 1950s with the introduction of pint’s and pie (Shepherd’s or Kidney Pie), Bangers and Mash, etc. Today, gastro pubs cater to a slightly more refined palate, and include menu items like Irish Stew, Soda Bread, and decadent desserts like Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel Sauce, and Caramel Apple Bread Pudding. Whatever the menu, the pub retains its reputation and essence as a community gathering place.

If you’re planning to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day at home, we have some “Pub Party” menu and activity ideas that will make your guests feel like they just crawled into the best gastro pub in town!”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

-Holly