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Cooking a Wee Bit of Real Irish

Leek & Cheddar Tart

Everyone's Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a day for spirited fun, so discover all the good things Irish: freshly baked scones and tarts, strong tea, friendships and beer!

Contributed by:
Beth Dooley
www.seasonalappetites.com

If you think St. Patrick’s Day is all about corned beef, you’ve got it wrong. In Ireland, the day is holy. Those expecting a lot of hoopla will be surprised (and perhaps disappointed) with what goes on there.

Meatless menu: Back in the “old country,” St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday, celebrated with a Mass and then a quiet supper at home. That’s not to say the Irish don’t knock back a beer or three. But because the day falls in the midst of Lent, beef is off the menu. More likely, you’d find salmon, cod or maybe mussel stew. The menu might start with a simple rustic tart made with leeks and Irish cheddar cheese.

No to corned beef: It's unlikely that real Irishmen would choose to eat corned beef because it's considered “survival food”...the only meat available during the potato famine. Made from scraps of beef the butchers couldn't sell, the meat is “corned” (or brined) in a salt solution to keep it from spoiling. In the States, corned beef is eaten on St. Patrick's Day as a way to acknowledge how far those who left dire circumstances back in Ireland have come.

Celebration of immigrants: In the early 1900s, Irish descendants in America started St. Patrick’s Day parades, which were all-inclusive affairs whereby all immigrants joined in. Boston, New York City, St. Louis and Chicago hosted the biggest bashes that drew thousands of Irish, Polish, Jewish, German and Italian marchers who were proud of their heritages. The purpose was for all people to celebrate where they came from and to recognize how much all immigrants had in common.

Leek and Cheddar Tart

In Ireland and the U.S., St. Patrick's Day is also a day for friendship and fun. Why not give this simple leek tart a try alongside a pot of tea or glass of beer?

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