March 17th, and everyone is Irish, just for today. Can’t turn down an excuse to drink good beer — please don’t dye it green, ye turist — and listen to some of the best toe-tapping music on the planet. I’ll be at the session with my fiddle, Meggie with her harp, and Steven, from O’Carolan’s Seduction, will have his uillean pipes.
Have corned beef and cabbage if you like, though it’s not as traditional as you’d think. Try soda bread or colcannon, a tasty mix of potato, cabbage, and in the traditional way, a heck of a lot of butter, for a more authentic Irish food. Or boxties.
Boxty on the griddle,
Boxty in the pan —
If you can’t make boxty,
You’ll never get a man.
This is an old Irish chant, but one that Hugh Kelly, transplanted from Ireland to Boulder, Colorado, remembers at an opportune moment for Steven. Have a read appropriate for the day, in O’Carolan’s Seduction.
Hugh Kelly’s come to America to leave Ireland, its traditions, and its conflicting attitudes behind, but the best money he can make is by tending bar in an “Irish pub.” The would-be Gaels love his authentic accent, but Hugh has eyes only for Steven, an uilleann piper with the damnable taste to wear kilts.
Hugh doesn’t care much for the traditional Irish music and is determined not to tap his toes along with the reels, jigs, and the O’Carolan tunes, but the music and Steven are irresistible. Steven gives Hugh a piping lesson, and the tune they play just might be called “O’Carolan’s Seduction.”
Here’s how to improve your chances at romance the Irish way:
1 1/2 cups grated raw potatoes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon skim milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup oil (olive or canola work, butter’s more traditional)
Toss the grated potatoes with flour in a large bowl. Stir in mashed potatoes until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and skim milk; mix into the potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drop in the potato mixture, forming patties about 2 inches in diameter. Fry on both sides until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve warm.