My maiden name is of Irish origin and I still have some tell tale signs of my Irish ancestors, such as pale, almost blue, skin. During the summer, my motto is “born to burn.” All kidding aside, growing up in the south is interesting, because it seems that you identify with being southern first, then American, then, if there is any lineage left, you may or may not identify with your ancestry.
For me, my family did not celebrate our Irish heritage at all. I learned about my bloodline in a Social Studies class during grammar school. We were all mixed grab bags of ethnicity, because that is what you get here in the melting pot. Our teacher focused more on our last names, to give us a focus.
I was enamored with the thought of being Irish, though all that I knew was the tidbits that came through television, such as their cool accents (at the time, I didn’t realize I was kicking around an accent myself). Potatoes and corned beef seemed to be important food items, all swigged down with pints of beer, while singing celtic songs and river dancing across the clover covered countryside, etc…. I know it is a fantasy world, but that was what I had gleaned from what very little information was available to me growing up.
As I got older, I asked about my ancestry more and more. We still had Irish family members located in the southern part of the U.S., but we didn’t actively participate in their lives or theirs in ours and I have never gotten the full story of why we no longer associated with them. I asked my parents to go to the family reunion and the only thing I was told was that they “drink” at their family reunions, which meant “no.” Ah, got to love growing up in the south, where drive through liquor stores are king. Matters of ettiquette are closely monitored, including and especially consumption. Though I have to admit I was intrigued with the idea of a family reunion including an open bar. My parent’s were onto my mischievous spirit and put the kibosh on those plans. I would just have to wait a few years.
When I went off to school, I lived in a city close to them. Unfortunately by the time this happened, only one great aunt was living in a nursing home. When I met my husband, my last name changed to Slovak origin. His family is very close to their origins, especially the food parts. I loved trying all of their foods and customs, but it left a slight tinge of mystery behind my origins. Sure, I identify with fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits and fish fries and cheese grits. And we have our own thick accents that represents our own agriculture and community ties, but I wanted to go deeper and even further back.
Through starting my own blog, I was able to come in contact with Viveka. She is a chef that lived in Ireland for 10 years, so I asked her for an authentic recipe for Colcannon. She was nice enough to let me live vicariously through her knowledge of the dish. Thank you Viveka. You guys should check out her blog and the recipe for Colcannon @ My Guilty Pleasures. Below is a picture of my Irish meal the other night.