Love Irish Soda Bread (but hold the Guinness): Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

“May you have food and raiment

A soft pillow for your head,

May you be forty years in heaven

Before the devil knows you’re dead!”

Of course I celebrate St.Patrick’ Day.  A happy holiday, and another occasion pictureto make traditional foods, even if it’s not my tradition.  It’s been years, actually, that I’ve been cooking, on this day, the famous Irish-American meal of corned beef with cabbage and potatoes, soda bread and Guinness, though this last is not to my taste, and I’ll just take a sip and grimace a bit when it goes bitterly down my throat.  I’m not a beer person, but if I had to have some (like on a super-hot august day), I’d choose an icy-cold, golden lager.  My favorite part of the meal is the soda bread (airán cuirini), which I make slightly sweet, laden with currants and butter, well-risen, moist and smelling seriously home-made.  I got the recipe from an Irish cookbook that I had added many years ago to my substantial collection of culinary literature, and though I’ve tried others, I still come back to this one because it picturemakes an incredible loaf.  Now, for dessert, well, I’m not fond of those green-glazed cookies that you find everywhere, but I love to make the creamiest – and most intensely vanilla –rice pudding.  And I make it with…Arborio rice! Trust me, it works (and no, it wasn’t my idea, but the recipe creator’s).  As far as I’m concerned, this is the best rice pudding I ever had.  What’s Irish about it? Who knows, who cares? I heard the recipe on the radio a long time ago and they called it Irish  rice pudding, so…Now, I know that corned beef and cabbage has nothing to do with Ireland proper, that it developed in America, but, hey, you know ‘spaghetti and meatballs”, that icon of ‘Italian’ food in America? It doesn’t pictureexist in Italy as such.  Pasta is never eaten in the same dish as meat,  and the meatballs would be served as a second course, along with veggies.  Again, an Americanized version of something that started Italian.  Try my recipes, dear friends, and I wish you all a fantastic St. Patrick’s Day! (Tall mug of coffee with Jameson and cream? Oh yes!)


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