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    EOL Coverage of Chefs Championships at IHMRS

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    Preparing Lobster for Competition

St. Patrick's Day All Year Long

By Carol Penn-Romine

Once during a St. Patrick's Day pub crawl, I saw a bruiser of a man swagger down the street wearing an ill-fitting dress and a lopsided wig, his face painted bright green. When some revelers on a balcony howled at him, he turned, lifted the back of his skirt and mooned them. We all discovered that his face wasn't the only thing he'd painted green! The partiers on the balcony roared with approval and raised their glasses filled with green-dyed beer to salute what they perceived to be his Irish chutzpah.
This didn't happen in Ireland, and quite frankly, none of it had anything to do with St. Patrick's Day. Not really. The Irish don't spend the day getting knee-walking drunk on green-dyed beer. In fact, they're not prone to paint anything green on the occasion that honors their patron saint.
Traditionally, the Irish celebrated St. Patrick's Day as Americans would Thanksgiving. Families began the day at church, then gathered at someone's home for a special meal. While the day has metamorphosed into a celebration of national pride, for the Irish it's still about the food and the fellowship.

You might be surprised to know that corned beef and cabbage, the dish we perceive to be quintessentially Irish, is not Irish at all. Corned beef was brought to the New World by Jewish immigrants, whose neighbors in cities like New York and Boston were Irish immigrants. These new arrivals couldn't afford their beloved joint of pork, so they went to their Jewish neighbors and picked up something that was affordable, available and tasty-corned beef. Historically, both beef and salt were dearly priced in Ireland, and the typical Irish family could not afford them. In fact, if corned beef had existed in Ireland, it would have been a delicacy. In America, thanks to the delicatessen, they could enjoy this treat and perhaps ease the sting of longing for their traditional foods (just one of many instances in which immigrants to America have had to make do with what they can find here to replace cherished foods they miss from home).

St. Patrick's Day is a good time to learn about Irish cuisine and share it with others. Following is a recipe for the dish Irish immigrants were yearning for, traditional bacon and cabbage with mustard sauce. With today's food production, shipping and storage, you can enjoy it year-round. Check your grocery's meat department to see if you can order a loin of bacon. And to accompany it, make up a fresh, warm loaf of Irish soda bread. Why not celebrate this St. Patrick's Day with REAL Irish food?!

Traditional Bacon and Cabbage with Mustard Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Bord Bia, a Dublin-based agency that provides information on food to Ireland and its guests