In all the years I worked in catering, coordinating menus and planning parties, I was never once asked to create an Irish-inspired fête. There were the Scottish celebrations in honour of Robbie Burns Day, English tea parties to commemorate the marriage of Prince William and Kate or a Downton Abbey viewing party, and the almost weekly Italian/French/Mexican-inspired menus designed for lively weekend gatherings. Sadly, the Irish never got their ‘fare’ share from our tiny commercial kitchen.
Happily, the same cannot be said for my own home, where we always indulge in an Irish-inspired dinner on or around March 17th. My husband’s grandparents were born in Ireland, as were my own great-grandparents, and I’ve always been interested in learning more about the booming food culture of the Emerald Isle, specifically the regions that were home to our ancestors. St. Patrick’s Day provides the perfect opportunity to explore my own personal heritage, and we celebrate the day with great enthusiasm (if you’re familiar with our annual Canada Day party this probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise).
My party menu is less about green food and more about preparing the dishes we’d likely find if we escaped to Ireland and were lucky enough to be invited to someone’s home for dinner. Naturally, I always have to include something fun for the kids, of course, and it usually ends up being a colourful creation made from the colours of the rainbow.
Here’s a sneak peek at this year’s menu:
- Artichokes with Parmesan Butter Sauce
- Beef and Guinness Stew (Here’s a fun fact: It’s said that only the people in the south of Ireland include carrots in their Irish stew, and that the northerners forgo them completely)
- Cheddar Cheese and Dill Irish Soda Bread
- Black and Tan Cupcakes
- Rainbow Juice Jigglers
No party is complete without a few good tunes spinning in the background, and I have a great playlist that boasts a bunch of Irish bands like U2 and The Cranberries. I also mix in songs from the movie The Commitments because they’re just SO good.
In terms of décor, I stay away from the leprechauns and rainbows and usually end up with a simple gold and green colour scheme for my table.
If your family is native to another land that doesn’t have a day of acknowledgment marked on the calendar consider creating your one of your own. Choose a date that’s significant to the history of where you come from, and host a dinner party complete with regional foods, specialty drinks, festive décor, themed music, and possibly even a patriotic dress code.
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