Happy (late) St. Patrick’s Day! I hope it was ridiculously fun and ridiculously safe at the same time.
Mrs. YHT and I elected to spend Sunday at home, having ventured out on Saturday to get the ingredients needed to make a celebratory steak, Guinness and cheddar pie. It’s a good thing our schedules were clear, because the pie took the better part of the evening to make, with the initial chopping, slicing and mincing starting around 4 p.m. and pie not hitting palates until a little after 8.
While I usually try to be a helpful sous-chef in these situations, the burgeoning cold that’s attacking my throat and energy in equal measures kept me out of the kitchen for most of the meal’s preparation. I did manage to contribute indirectly by choosing cooking music I thought would enhance the experience, and despite resisting at first, I went with the album pictured above — Van Morrison’s Moondance.
Van Morrison is one of my wife’s favorites. As part of the magical Last Waltz concert, he holds a special place in my heart as well, though I wouldn’t say my enthusiasm for Morrison is as strong as hers. But that’s not why I resisted putting Moondance on. I resisted because it felt cheesy. Too easy. Sleazy, even. Maybe I should spend less time on the Internet (I should spend less time on the Internet), but I’d seen a few too many articles and posts in the days leading up to this weekend about how actual Irish people feel about St. Patrick’s Day, about how ridiculous the rest of the world looks wearing cartoonish green costumes, and how offensive/dangerous ordering an Irish Car Bomb at a bar in Dublin would really be. You just wouldn’t. They wouldn’t make it, and you probably wouldn’t make it out of the door in one piece.
There’s a weird intersection between cynicism and cultural sensitivity here that I haven’t totally sorted out. Being the one person in your group of friends who refuses to wear green because you know how silly you’d look to a group of strangers thousands of miles away isn’t cool, and neither is mindlessly ordering a drink named after a very real act of terrorism. I’m sure there’s middle ground in there somewhere, but as I scanned my record collection for something appropriate, I wasn’t sure where Morrison stood. In fact, there’s a lot I didn’t/still don’t know — that Morrison is from Belfast… that Belfast is in Northern Ireland… what the difference between Northern Ireland and “regular” Ireland is… what their respective relationships with the UK are… whether they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in both… What I’m trying to say is authenticity is a pain in the ass. Or arse, as the case may be. I gave up when I saw on the Belfast City Council’s website that they do indeed hold St. Paddy’s Day celebrations where Morrison was born, complete with a parade, concerts, face painting and all the rest, and down went the needle on Moondance.
Did I really need to do all that research just to play a Van Morrison record? Probably not. Who knows — I might have forgotten this whole episode by the time March 17 rolls around next year. Either way, Morrison’s serenade was outstanding as usual, our Guinness pie was delicious, and I have my fingers crossed that, together, they’ll act as the seed of a new and meaningful tradition at YHT headquarters.
To commemorate my crisis of cultural consciousness, I’ve elected to share Moondance closer “Glad Tidings” — a song written by a Northern Irish singer about living in New York and corresponding with a friend in London. Hope you enjoy.