For pretty much my whole life, I have eaten the same meal for St. Patrick's Day - heck, so have most people in America. But I've known for the last 10 years or so that this meal, while tasty, isn't the real deal.
Are you sitting down? I hope so, because I have to tell you something: Corned Beef and Cabbage really isn't a traditional Irish meal. It's an American one. And while I love it and continue to eat it, it's not the most authentic way to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland.
Real Irish food is flavorful and rich, but not fussy (if you've ever made corned beef from scratch, you know how fussy it is). It's really quite good. Served in pubs all over, this hearty fare won't disappoint.
So, what is Irish, then? Well, Irish Soda Bread is an Irish favorite. In fact, a recent issue of Bon Appetit, Andrew McCarthy (yes, that Andrew McCarthy) went in search of the perfect soda bread in Ireland. His conclusion? Perfect to one is not perfect to all. There are many variations in consistency, color and even what dots the bread. Find one that you love.
If you are looking more towards dinner fare, try Bangers and Mash. Basically, it's sausages (Irish, if you can get them, but any flavorful variety will do) served over Mashed Potatoes, and often served with an onion gravy.
Shepherd's Pie (also known as Cottage Pie) is also a traditional Irish dish. The good thing about this dish? You can make a vegetarian version or even a healthier meaty version.
Another hearty dish is Irish Stew, which is made with lamb, potatoes, parsley and onions. It can also be made with beef.
As for dessert? Well, Guinness sounds like a good choice. But for an Irish-inspired dessert, Frosted Irish Cream Brownies really sound good.
Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger. Find her online at Sarah's Cucina Bella.