So... you may have guessed that my family is part Irish. Yep! When I was a kid, every March 17th my dad used to make the soda bread, simmer the corned beef, and play Irish records. Mmm! It was quite the feast. And can’t you imagine my divorced papa with three little redhead girls all dancing around to “The Unicorn” sung by the Irish Rovers? It was a celebration that even a one-parent family could afford.
It’s funny how ingrained those food traditions become in our lives. And of course you know that the corned beef and soda bread are really Irish-American variations on food from the old country. I don’t even mind. For me, it’s more about associating the togetherness with the food. My dad always made time to celebrate with us and that meant more than having a fancy house or expensive clothes ever could.
Needing to complete the tradition yesterday, I had to bake soda bread, and I made a chicken version of the traditional supper with potatoes and cabbage. I had to. It’s too weird for me not to. It would be like the holiday never happened.
My traditional foods obsession isn't limited to St. Pat's Day. It crops up at Christmas (Dad’s Chesapeake Bay chowder), Thanksgiving (Grandma’s corn pudding), and birthdays. Seriously, it is not a true birthday unless there are strawberry-covered pancakes involved. I’ve even adopted Hanukkah food since my friend Jen invited me over for her yearly celebration. Now, there must be latkes in December.
I love cooking these foods for and with friends – it always tastes better when you share and you don’t get tempted to eat the whole batch, right? I've always loved cooking and I’ve put a teen cook in my new YA I’m writing. She’s sharing the love through her baking – that hits very close to home for me. It’s been really fun to describe the things she’s creating for her family. Maybe I should have her make soda bread??
How about you and your peeps? Do you get cravings for special holiday food? Do you have any fun holiday traditions that you share with your family?
Never Cry Werewolf – HarperTeen 2009
The Clearing – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 04/2010
Wherever You Go – Harcourt 2011