My mom (um, hello…Peggy Fitzpatrick, above) is Irish. Her great-grandmother Catherine Buckley arrived in Baltimore on a ship from County Cork in 1850 at the age of 16. And…when you see my mom, you say, “Yep, she’s Irish.”

And, while my Irish mom is a big part of who I am (and my dad, too…I named my dog Henry in his honor), my love of food and cooking and feeding people seems to come from my maternal grandmother, Mary Fitzpatrick. She and my grandfather Clark lived on a working farm in Harford County and I’ve written a little about them before. They were extremely hard working people – raising lambs, pigs, chickens and steer, churning their own butter, smoking and curing meats and so much more. Mary was a fabulous cook and if you stopped by their house, you ate. Like, really, ate. One of my mom’s most vivid food memories was her mother frying chicken in bacon fat – she said the skin was perfectly crispy. I’ve gotta try that.

While I don’t have the time to make my own butter or keep (much less, slaughter…oy) my own animals, I do try to live a bit like my grandparents did. I grow vegetables and herbs and buy most of my food — bread, produce, meat, coffee, milk, cheese, etc. — directly from the people who produced it by shopping at the Waverly Market every Saturday, year round. And I think my decision to keep backyard chickens is a sort of nod to Clark and Mary. I just wish I could have met them.

While my grandparents loved good food, they didn’t really go big on what you think of as typically Irish fare. They did eat lots of lamb and potatoes (and enjoyed the whiskey, I hear) but they didn’t really make a big deal about St. Patrick’s Day, much less being Irish. Don’t get me wrong, they were proud, but they really were simple people, living a simple life.

Every year when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, I think I really should honor my ancestors and go out to drink some green beers or dance a jig or something, but I don’t usually do that. I’m not one for crowded bars, but I do celebrate at home. I might make some corned beef and cabbage, maybe a potato gratin (okay, that sounds fancy, so let’s call it scalloped potatoes…that sounds more like my family) and I’ll definitely enjoy a nice pint o’ Guinness. If you want a really nicely poured Guinness, go to James Joyce Pub – they do it right.

Maybe I’ll even have an Irish car bomb? They are delicious, but trouble. A shot of Bailey’s with whiskey dropped into a 1/2 pint of Guinness. Have you ever had one? Super delicious and dangerous if you overdo it. Do not have more than one. I’m warning you. Stop.

If you’re planning on doing an Irish feast this weekend, here are some delicious ideas.
Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, lads and lassies – make my people proud!
May your troubles be less and your blessing be more,
and nothing but happiness, come through your door.

Amy Langrehr is the blogger and Instagrammer behind Charm City Cook. She writes about food, drink, cooking and more in her hometown of Baltimore.

4 replies on “Charm City Cook: Irish Food and Drink from an Irish Lass”

  1. I am conflicted about St. Patrick’s Day. As an American with an Irish heritage, I started out embracing it in all its marketing-driven glory. Once I started playing Irish music however, things changed. I observed the mild disdain 1st and 2nd generation Irish seemed to have for the mayhem, and also the perceived desecration of things they held dear- I mean, green beer, for crying out loud? And lastly, the trivialization of the culture, the Irish-As-Marketing for the drinks biz, etc.

    Now, having said all that, I sorely miss the days when I took the 17th off, sat on a pub stage for 9 hours, played reels and hornpipes, played “Danny Boy” once an hour *shudder* and watched the whole crazy mess go to hell by 4 p.m. It was pretty fun. And rest assured I’ll be having a Guinness that day, and probably corned beef too. But it won’t be out and about in a bar, it’s Amateur Night. Thanks to your recipes, I can have it all at home…and maybe have a reel for the kids 😉

  2. I love this? I’m in love will all of the recipes and of course, the Irish Car bomb. We actually have Guinness on tap at home! Guess what I will be doing on Saturday? I also put green food coloring in all the commodes in the house and the kids get a huge kick out of it.

    I’m not much of a cupcake person but I did see a Bailey’s cupcake and thought of you. I will try and find the recipe and post it here. Cheers

  3. I have recently traced my Irish roots through my maternal grand other’s family tree … I am inspired by Amy ‘s family tree and the rich history she shares … And of course, the recipes. For me this St. Patrick’s Day, I still have to color the milk and toilets green, leave magical green sprinkles everywhere and watch in enjoyment as my children still believe the leprechauns
    Snuck into our house.
    Thanks for your recipes and great storytelling

Comments are closed.