What is it about St Patrick’s Day that seems to capture the entire world’s party spirit? Supposedly celebrating the Saint’s day of a small island in the North Sea, every March 17th people from Argentina to Canada to Japan don the colour green, parade through the streets and drink their weight in the black stuff.
It’s hard to imagine the English-born Saint Patrick would approve of such wanton festivity seeing as he was captured and held captive by the Irish for many years, only returning to the Emerald Isle after his ordeal to convert the celtic natives to Christianity, using the shamrock to teach the Holy Trinity. But then the history of the day is all but irrelevant now (St Patrick’s colour wasn’t even green, it was blue) and instead we are celebrating, and perhaps trying to be a part of, the spirit of Ireland as we perceive it today; a beautiful, ancient land filled with good humoured, hard drinking, good time-loving people – who wouldn’t want to be Irish? I must admit, I myself get swept up in proud claims to my Irish heritage as I sit typing with a pint of guinness and fond memories of boiled bacon and cabbage and tipsy elderly family members dancing the night away in the pub throughout my childhood stays in Galway.
There is something comforting about being involved, in however small a way, in this Global community, with emmigrants spread far and wide still holding true to their sense of ‘Irishness’. Cultural identity is something that is easily lost in modern times as the world tries to strike a balance between maintaing heritage and embracing multiculturalism. I wonder if more countries might hit upon the success and acceptance of Ireland’s St Patrick’s Day through gastronomy? However the world changes, the cuisine of a region is the living embodiment of a place, its history and people. I feel proud that Drink Dine Discover travels to destinations that have already taken this concept to heart and I get the same sense of being part of a special club as I do now drinking my silky stout and ‘ironically’ wearing the garish leprechaun socks sent over for Christmas from the Co. Kerry branch of the Fogarty clan.