Thursday, March 21, 2013

Punishment at the Pub?

In honor of our one tenuous link to the Old Sod—a great, great grandfather who lived and is buried in Ireland—beautiful wife Sandy and I traveled the seven miles to J.R. McGonigle’s Pub for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner. The music was loud. The conversations were boisterous. Green abounded, including the color of the beer flowing from one of the taps.

The place was packed. There aren’t that many Irishmen in the state of Michigan. Had anyone called the roll, odds were good it would have revealed the presence of more Schmidts and Skoronskis than O’Rourkes and O’Bannions.

We, of course, ordered the corned beef special. It came with red potatoes and the obligatory chunk of cabbage. The quantity was overwhelming. The quality was another matter, but a mug of Guinness from the non-green tap helped compensate for that. 

Did they take our bread?
When we left, I asked Sandy what she thought of the meal. It seemed as though something was missing. “There wasn’t any bread,” Sandy said. “That meal needs bread to be complete; a slice of rye would have been nice.”

Maybe someone heard me mention that great, great granddaddy was a Scot who migrated to Ireland several hundred years ago. There wasn’t a Catholic bone in his body, and he no doubt did not participate in celebrations of Patrick or any other saint. Did the “little people” punish us for the Scots-Irish part of my heritage by keeping the bread from our table?


Jhawk 23 said...

St. Pat's day parties we've attended (including at our Irish-American neighbors' house) have usually included "Irish soda bread."

Our neighbors' version was very bland stuff but on a trip in Ireland a couple of years ago, we found the Irish themselves are making some excellent and interesting soda breads, full of whole grains, seeds, and such.

Coming back to the US we had trouble finding any recipes for such inventive soda breads, so Karen began experimenting and came up with a recipe we like and have been making since.

We had our own St. Pat's day party last Sunday for a few friends, and yes, we gave them our bread along with the rest of the menu.

Tom Sightings said...

You have to have bread with dinner? You must be German (or Italian). In my family we had to have potatoes at every meal. You can guess where we came from!

P. S. I'm impressed that after your Irish dinner, you could come home and still spell the word "boisterous" correctly!

Dick Klade said...

You guessed it, Tom. Other than that one Scots-Irish ancestor, all others were German. My dad's parents were immigrants, and we followed some Deutsch habits and customs. We had bread at just about every meal. However, many meals included potatoes, because they were cheap and the household budget was tight.

PiedType said...

I thought everyone was Irish on St. Paddy's Day, especially when in an Irish pub. Not sure what I'd have ordered for dinner, but I know for sure I'd have passed on the green beer. Some things just have no business being green.

schmidleysscribblins, said...

Your kind of Scots-Irish (protestant and proud) is one of the four seeds of Albion and one of the oldest immigrant groups in America. They form the backbone of the population in the Appalachia area in the East and most fought in the American Revolution with George Washington. The frontier jacket (uniform) GW's men wore comes from Appalachia.

Plenty of "fighting" Scots in S. America too.

Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, by David Hackett.


Dick Klade said...

Interesting, Dianne. Thanks. A descendent of great-great grandpa got a land grant from the Canadian government in payment for his military service during the Fenian Raids (1866-1871).

The Fenians were Irish-Americans who launched a series of attacks upon British installations in Canada.

My niece now has custody of a handsome certificate that made the grant in Ontario official. The land apparently was sold for taxes many years later.

Kay said...

All the Irish must have moved to Chicago. I think I had more Irish friends than anything else when we lived there. I learned to love St. Patrick's Day. We're having a late St. Paddy's Day party tomorrow night. I've got corned beef, cabbage, red potatoes, carrots waiting along with the Guinness. And to top it off, green tablecloth. :-)

Bob Lowry said...

To go along with our corned beef, red potatoes, and cabbage dinner at our in-laws, we found excellent Irish soda bread at Sprouts, a whole-foods type supermarket in our area. It had just enough sugar on the crust and raisins inside to make it irresistible.

I've had hard, unappetizing soda bread in years past, but this version was fabulous.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many Irish/Americans know that The British Army has Irish regiments ? Here is an item of news for Saint Paddy's Day.

Dick Klade said...

I doubt many Americans of any stripe know about the Irish regiments. I didn't.

Thanks for the youtube link. We especially enjoyed the bed racing scenes. When our son was a teenager he and some buddies formed a bed racing team. Seeing the Irish lads competing brought back good memories.