March, specifically March 17th, holds many memories for me of St. Patrick’s (never say Patty’s) Day. At the gawky age of thirteen, while walking down Fifth Avenue with girlfriends (mostly we hung out in Central Park and heard, rather than saw the parade, a passing fireman grabbed me and bent me over to give me a big smacking kiss. I was flabbergasted, thrilled; me and my giggly friends laughed about it for the rest of the day and at least once a year in years to come.
I marched in the parade the year I was eleven, playing my fife as part of the St. Bartholomew’s school band. The freezing temps and sleety rain falling in the holes of the fife made it impossible to play, and the thirty plus blocks we walked knocked me out and had me whining all the way home on the subway, where my mother sat glued to the TV, still watching for a glimpse of me. "You're home? You're home!" she shouted. "I'm still looking for you!"
Many years I stood in front the of the Met Museum, (our spot), where I met friends or family. Some years I went by myself, some years I was glued to the TV hoping for a glimpse of a nephew or niece marching with the Suffolk County Police Department, and thrilling each time a group of bagpipes played.
The most memorable parade was in 2012, when the NYC firemen marched in silence, each carrying one flag to represent the number of firemen lost in the twin towers the previous September. People sobbed unashamedly.
I make corned beef and cabbage every year, and Irish Soda Bread, the same as my mother made, and her mother before her, and her mother (no, we don’t use caraway seeds.) Guinness is a must, of course.
Here’s the recipe:
4 c flour; 1 tsp salt; 4tblsp sugar; 2tsp baking powder; 1/2 tsp baking soda...add raisins (1 cup), mix all dry ingredients. Add 2 cups buttermilk and mix - not too wet. Turn out onto floured board, knead out and place in buttered and floured heavy frying pan (what?) Pat top with milk and a few lumps of butter ( of course) Bake about 30-40 minutes @375^. Bread is done when you tap on bottom and it thumps nicely.
My granddaughter Tegan helped make the bread when she was four.
Erin Go Bragh: Ireland Forever
Note: in honor of my Mother and her favorite holiday, you'll find an excerpt from Chapter 3 “It’s a Great Day for the Irish”, Father Father, on the Chapters page. Click here