My family goes hard on St. Patrick’s Day. I would say we go ham, but that would do an injustice to the amount of corned beef we eat. I'm a 5th gen. Irish-American, so my family is pretty well-integrated into American culture. But my mom and grandma never let our family forget our Irish roots. Growing up, St. Patrick's Day was a big deal. We always have a huge party with green everything.
Our traditions go all the way back to my great-grandma, the first to come to America, who brought Irish customs with her. These included spending March 17th with friends, family, and—most importantly—food. If you want to feast like us Irish-Americans do and get an authentic taste of Ireland, try some of these foods that my family always has on St. Patrick’s Day.
"7 Kinds of Potatoes"
There’s an old joke that a seven-course Irish meal is just seven different types of potatoes, and it’s really not far off the mark. Mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, scalloped potatoes—you name it, we serve it for St. Patrick’s Day dinner. Half of the table is always devoted to delicious spuds.
Irish Soda Bread
Quick, simple, and loaded with yummy carbs, Irish Soda Bread is what my sister and I would stuff our faces with as we waited for the rest of dinner to finish cooking. The recipe my mom uses has been passed down for generations, and every Irish family has their own variation.
It's as if the luck of the Irish is with you when making Irish Soda Bread because it's really as easy as wishing on a rainbow.
When my great-grandmother came to the US from Ireland and started the traditions my family knows and loves today, she used to boil a ham for St. Patrick’s Day. It was cheaper than other meats and closer to what she was accustomed to from back home. But as my mom says, later generations “liked to put on airs,” and so we started serving fancy-pants corned beef instead.
Usually boiled, then roasted in the same pan as the corned beef, an Irish Hotpot consists of celery, carrots, parsnips, onions, cabbage, turnips, and yes, more potatoes. This is my all-time favorite Irish dish, and I look forward to it every St. Patrick’s Day. It's best slathered in butter, salt, and pepper. After one serving of Irish Hotpot, you'll be back for seconds, and maybe even thirds.
Once, I witnessed my little 87-year old grandma pull out a jug of whiskey, and proceed to drink my two tall, athletic male cousins under the table. And they’re not lightweights either. It's probably because she grew up her whole life surrounded by Irishmen who drank whiskey like water.
It’s no surprise that whiskey is a staple at our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. We always have two kinds present: Jameson, and Bushmills. There’s even a drink for the under-21 kids at the party: 7-Up with green food coloring. It might sound cliché, but us Irish love our drinks.
Shamrock Sugar Cookies
It's a fact that cookies taste 200% better when baked with sprinkles on top. These are simple, yet perfectly capture the St. Paddy’s spirit. I love helping my mom bake them almost as much as I love eating them.
Made from my family’s secret sugar cookie recipe, shaped into 4-leaf clovers, and sprinkled with green sparkles on top, these cookies beat out any shamrock shake.
My family may love eating green foods on St. Patrick’s Day, but that doesn’t mean we're eating healthily. Filled with delectable carbs, sodium, and fats, our traditional dishes are comfort foods that remind us of our Irish heritage. If you’re craving an authentic St. Patrick’s Day celebration, serving some of these dishes will definitely give you a true taste of how the Irish eat.