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Once upon a time, St. Patrick’s Day was a humble holiday honoring the man who brought Christianity to Ireland. Today, March 17 has evolved into a larger-than-life party synonymous with drinking (13 million pints of Guinness are swilled worldwide on this day alone), parades (New York City hosts the world’s largest), and—of course—feasting on traditional Irish foods.
The potato is Ireland’s most renowned culinary symbol, but like “Kiss Me I’m Irish” buttons and green beer, its origins aren’t rooted in Irish soil. The unassuming tuber first appeared on the Emerald Isle back in the 16th century, a “gift” from skeptical British rulers who bestowed the South American vegetable on their Irish subjects as an experiment. The potato flourished in Ireland, thanks to a growing climate similar to that of the South American highlands where it originated. The fact that they taste good and could fill the bellies of the common classes inexpensively also helped propel the potato’s success. Besides being affordable, tasty, and loaded with lore, potatoes are also high in vitamin B6, potassium, and—surprise!—vitamin C.
Many of the most revered Irish dishes are built on the potato, and St. Patrick’s Day is as good an excuse as any to experiment with them. Some recipes are instantly recognizable, having entered the contemporary culinary lexicon: Shepherd’s Pie and Irish stew, to name a couple. But boxty—which is essentially a potato pancake—and that delicious mélange of whipped potatoes and kale known as colcannon are spud-centric recipes that deserve to be sampled too.
Aurelia d’Andrea’s passion for travel is deeply intertwined with her love of food. Whether in Perth, Prague, or Phnom Penh, she always gravitates toward local markets in search of edible treasures, and takes pleasure in re-creating tasty travel memories at home in her tiny Parisian kitchen.