Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Everyone loves a good party. And no one loves a festive St. Patrick’s Day more than Americans. As a country, we have embraced the Irish holiday with an enthusiasm unrivaled even in its historical birthplace.

Appearing in the colonies in the late 1700s, celebration of the saint’s day was embraced by Irish immigrants as a way to support the community and solidify their national identity in a country far from home. In the late 1800s, with the blooming of the Irish population in the US, the holiday fully entered the American consciousness and began to develop the cultural popularity it currently enjoys. It certainly helps that for many Irish Catholics here and around the world, the day was effectively a religiously-sanctioned reprieve from the ban on alcohol during Lent.

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It’s easy to dismiss the holiday as a  dubious excuse for drunkenness of a particularly unattractive degree. But coming from (albeit distant) Irish stock and having married into it, respectively, we find that it’s an ideal opportunity to reevaluate the place Ireland holds in our own culture and in our self-identity. So to celebrate in true First We Eat style, we decided that a full Irish breakfast was called for. Accompanied unexpectedly but to  perfection by mimosas, this was a testament to true Irish style and a far better salute than the usual corned beef and cabbage.

Beginning with the classic fried tomatoes and mushrooms and proceeding through an overwhelming list of meats, we constructed our ideal fry-up. A local European market and deli, the Junket (for all of your breakfast sausage and Cadbury needs), provided us with black and white pudding, rashers, and sausage. In a sunlit kitchen we fried meat and then eggs, toasted thick slices of bread, and warmed up some authentic Heinz baked beans. We loaded up plates and tucked in with abandon. Egg yolk invaded thickly buttered toast, beans were piled on browned rashers, tender mushrooms mixed with slices of black pudding – we were in heaven.

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Afterwards, fortified by our breakfasts and aware of the dangers of the post-meal food coma, we ventured out into the Berkeley Hills for a walk up to Indian Rock park. There, in the sun, we watched kids running, young men climbing, and a woman with a striking red parrot. And if that’s not the most satisfying way to celebrate, I couldn’t tell you what is.

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