March 17, 2013 – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

As you probably know, Saint Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick actually takes place on the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death. Saint Patrick, who lived circa AD 385-461, is credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish masses with his clever use of the 3-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. Today, Saint Patrick’s Day is a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland.

Jim and I seem never to be far from Ireland spiritually no matter where we end up. For the past ten or so years, we lived in Tucson, which was founded – according to some historians – by the red-headed Dublin-born Irishman Hugh (also known as Hugo) O’Conor in 1775.

Hugo O'Conor

Tucson Statue of Hugo O’Conor

Just a few months ago, we moved from Arizona, and now we live sort of near to Chicago, if you count an hour and a half away (in no traffic) as near. As of 2010, Irish-Americans were still counted as the largest ethnic group in Chicago. So it seems appropriate, this year, to focus on how Chicago celebrates this very popular holiday.

The Chicago River is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of 156 miles running right through downtown Chicago. It links the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley waterways.

Every year since 1961, the city has turned the Chicago River green on St. Patrick’s Day. The dye is spilled from small boats, and gets drawn into the flow of the river.

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The formula for the dye is kept secret, and some people get worried about what the city is putting into the river. (Allegedly it is vegetable dye.) (In any event, as one wag observed, “One would ask how this is different from the rest of the year when the river is always a murky shade of green.”)

Nevertheless, the Friends of the Chicago River organization doesn’t object, opining “It’s not the worst thing that happens to the river.”

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This year, the dying began at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 16th. This was also the day of the big parade, which began at noon.

But there are still ways to celebrate!

Of course, there is green beer. According to CBS Chicago, this is how you make it:

Green Beer

There are a few different routes to go to get that perfect St. Patrick’s Day green. With a lighter, more yellowed colored beer, try using blue food coloring instead of green. The mix of yellow and blue will create a dark emerald green color.

For a lighter more lime green color, stick with the traditional green food coloring. A mix of the two is worth trying to get that perfect shade of green.

How To:

Add 2-3 drops of food coloring in to an empty glass.
Pour beer in to the glass (no stirring required).

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But I’m more interested in this recipe for Irish Coffee, offered on the same website. (We had it when in Ireland, and I couldn’t get enough of it! I even got one from room service one evening, much to Jim’s horror. But I placated him soon enough by giving him half!) Even though the recipe sounds simple, in combination the ingredients create magic!

Irish Coffee

Ingredients:

1 1/2 oz Irish whiskey

1 tsp brown sugar

6 oz hot coffee

Regular cream or Bailey’s Irish Cream (amount to taste preference)

How To:

Combine whiskey, brown sugar and coffee in a mug. Stir to dissolve. Pour Bailey’s and enjoy!

6baileys

What to have with it? That’s easy! Green bagels!

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Or green Peeps!

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Or green-just-about-anything! But don’t count on getting any of this in a downtown Chicago bar unless you enjoy wall-to-wall people and endless waiting!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

***

This post will be linked to this Saturday’s Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. where bloggers share food-related posts. Stop by her blog and see what’s cooking this week!

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15 Responses

  1. Such interesting info in this St. P’s Day post. The green river is kinda weird to me, but then again, I’m not Irish:)

  2. I *love* Irish coffee — would drink it every evening if it didn’t contain all that sugar and cream. Mr. BFR discovered a new-to-us Irish whiskey yesterday, so that’s what we’ll have tonight.

  3. Aww this post made me smile! I miss the dying of the river and watching the parade on TV every year! Also you have GOT to find green river pop. It’s a Chicago thing that is absolutely delicious.

  4. I did not know that about Tucson..

    It is odd. While I object to green beer, VERY STRONGLY, making a river green makes perfect sense..Maybe because I do not think you should be drinking beer light enough in color to be able to dye. .lol
    not sure about the bagels.

  5. Anything green right now makes me feel nauseous (except maybe the Peeps). My stomach is in a fugue state right now. Even the beer is grossing me out. One of these days though, I will celebrate properly.

  6. Were you in Chicago for St. Patty’s? We could have met up!

  7. Green peeps? Eeeewwww…

    I’m making a Chocolate Guinness Cake for our celebration today. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  8. I’m making a Pistachio Bread for St. Patrick’s Day to go with our corned beef, cabbage, champ and bread pudding. Slainte!

  9. I’ll go for the Peeps and Irish coffee if I have to eat something Irish today!

  10. This was all very interesting! I love Irish coffee too, but we don’t celebrate with any green food at our house!

  11. I’m not big on Irish coffee – I hate my coffee sweet.

  12. I would like to be in a boat, floating on the green river, with a plate of green donuts, a few steins of green beer, and an Irish Coffee to top it all off!!

  13. Okay, I know I’ve been out of it the past few months but I can’t believe I missed that you had moved! What a change. I love that you ordered Irish coffee from room service – that is a serious need for some hot, caffeinated alcohol!

  14. Those green bagels look disgusting! I bought these new veggie chips for Gage (first ingredient green peas) and even though he has eaten every other chip I have brought home, he takes one look at the green color and knows something is terribly wrong. He does enjoy feeding them to me however :)

  15. As long as no one tries to DRINK the river water. And I love how you worked Peeps into this post!

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