Monday, March 17, 2008

Black Irish

I have an odd sort of relationship with St. Patrick's Day.

My ancestry is the usual American mish-mash, but if anything stands out it's the Scots-Irish and Scots on my mother's side. Grandpa McMillian was a straight-off-the-boat haggis-beater back at the turn of the 19th Century. He was a good Scottish Prod through-and-through and took great delight in teaching me "The Orangeman's Toast" ("Here's to Good King William/who saved us from popes and popery, rogues and roguery/from brass buttons and wooden shoes/and whosever denies this toast may he be crammed, jammed and slammed into the Great Gun of Athlone/the gun fired into the Pope's belly/the Pope into the Devil's belly/the Devil into Hell and the key in an Orangeman's pocket/and here's a fart for the Bishop of Cork.") when I was too little to understand the bigotry - and as Millicent reminded me just yesterday, I have one of those pack-rat minds that forgets nothing.

So I tend to sort of gloss over the St. Paddy's Day festivities, feeling a bit like the clarinet player in a Hamas paramilitary band being asked to knock out "Havanagila" at a B'nai B'rith wedding. My type just don't DO that sort of thing.

I DO like corned beef and cabbage. So every year I boil up a dinner and we all sit down to it.

This was Missy's first year as an American, where everyone - even little Cantonese girls - are Irish on March 17th. So I dished her up a helping of little cut-up corned beef bits, cabbage, taties and carrots, figuring that worse come to worst she had potatoes and carrots, two things I know she loves.

Who knew!? The girl started shoving the good meat in like a mad Fenian starving for the Auld Sod. Carrots were forgotten, potatoes abandoned. It was ALL about the corned beef. At one point I think she had her arm down her neck to the elbow. I wish I'd gotten some pictures; she was funny in her frantic eagerness to get outside some good corned beef.

So. Perhaps I need to rexamine my stubborn Orange ways. Because if a little girl from the big city on the Pearl River delta can be as Irish in her tastes as Erin O'Bragh, why can't I?

(NB - yes, yes, I know - "corned beef and cabbage" is an "Irish-in-America" meal rather than truly Irish. But I guess that's the point; we're NOT Irish and our St. Padraig's Day isn't really about Ireland. It's about Boston and Father Flanagan and shilleleighs and The Quiet Man and New York coppers and leprechauns and all that silly Irish-American guff. Now sit down and drink your Guiness...)


Brent said...

I'm with Maxine on this one. We had our annual St. P's party at our house on Saturday (6 years running!) with about 15 people crammed in our little abode. With three big crock pots stuffed full of corned beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, and cabbage. After everyone went through the line for a plate of food, there was NO corned beef left. NONE. Not even the chunks of braised fat. After all the hard work, the only leftovers I get are over-cooked cabbage with bits of potatoes. Still, it has a hint of salty meat, and we had a fun time - so no regrets.

walternatives said...

Tip o' the hat and all that - but what I really want to know... Where the hell did that bra come from? Or does it just look ginourmous because it's on wee Missy?

wzgirl said...

I took hubs out to our fave local diner for C B & C tonight. I had a fried egg sandwich. It was lovely - for both of us. Til' the St. Patties flatulence arrived. Hoo boy.

Diane said...

You're hot.

Mr. Husband (an Ulsterman of the 1st generation, though as you say other things tend to get mixed in there: he has Viking and Huguenot and Border Reiver and Ghod knows what else) thinks you're hot. I (6 generations of southern Irish via the New York side of things, and now living in Wicklow: how did *that* happen?) think you're hot.

Enjoy the corned beef, though (as correctly described at our website -- and thanks for the linkback) it ain't what folks eat here.

(We both roared at the curse. "'That's a *professional* curse," Prospero said, 'you don't get curses like that any more...'")