For little ones, March 17 is the day to wear green or get pinched – the myth behind this is leprechauns will pinch anyone they can see and wearing green makes you invisible to the little creatures. For adults, green beer and Irish inspired food mark the St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

History

Believe it or not, the jovial holiday began as a minor Christian feast day more than 1,000 years ago. Patrick was a slave in Ireland as a young boy. As a result of his hardship, he found religion. After escaping from Ireland, he returned home to Roman Britain where he was ordained as a priest. The spirit moved him to return to Ireland and convert the Irish people to Christianity. Patrick used the three leaves of the Irish shamrock to explain the Catholic concept of the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Patrick, recognized at the patron saint of Ireland, died on March 17, thus date for the annual feast.

The party-like celebrations and parades were started by Irish-Americans in the United States as way to confirm ethnic identity – wearing the color green was a way to show loyalty to Ireland.

National Geographic: St. Patrick’s Day

History.com: St. Patrick’s Day

No matter how you celebrate, Irish inspiration is hard to find, especially when it comes to food.

Irish Stew

Irish food is known for its fresh ingredients and the lack of herbs and spices, except for salt and pepper. The staples of the Irish diet include potatoes, grains and dairy products including many types of seafood, beef, lamb and pork. A typical Irish dinner consists of potatoes cooked whole, cabbage and meat.

Irish stew is the national dish and is known the satisfy the hunger of anyone who eats it. Basic Irish stew consists of potatoes, onions, carrots, bacon, lamb and salt and pepper. Modern recipes call for more spices and other twists the traditional dish.

Epicurious: Irish Beef Stew

Allrecipes.com: Irish Lamb Stew

 

Potato Dishes

Irish Colcannon

Champ/Poundies

While quite basic, this is claimed to be the most widely eaten potato dish in Ireland. Potatoes and scallions are the main ingredients with a little butter and salt and pepper.

Best Health Magazine: Irish Champ

Colcannon

While popular in the U.S. on St. Patrick’s Day, this recipe started as a Halloween tradition in Ireland. The Irish would make the dish, hiding a charm somewhere in the pot.

Christian Science Monitor: Irish Colcannon

 

Modern Day Cheeses

Irish cheese from igourmet

While there is a bland history of cheesemaking that almost disappeared during World War II, farmhouse cheeses have returned to the Emerald Isle in recent years.

Epicurious: Irish Cheese

Once you buy your Irish cheese, try this soup recipe!

Food.com: St. Patrick’s Day Irish Cheese Soup

 

Irish Beer

No, not American beer with a little green food coloring, we are talking about real Irish beer.  Aside from Guinness, most Irish beers are low profile and can only be found in specialty stores, but they are available.

Stouts are the most popular in Ireland, dark brown with roasted flavors and foamy heads.

Ireallylikefood.com: List of Irish Beer

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