To be sure, there are plenty of other St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans we Americans enjoy that elicit an exasperated, if not defeated sigh from anyone actually hailing from the Emerald Isle. Like say, depositing the contents of one’s stomach on a busy city street corner in the middle of the day while a parade goes by.
But NPR’s The Salt blog points to the dark past of green food in Ireland as an even more unsettling example of how some of us just don’t get it over here. As a historian explains, the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, which killed at least a million Irish in six years, pushed starving people to the edge.
“People were so deprived of food that they resorted to eating grass,” she explained. “In Irish folk memory, they talk about people’s mouths being green as they died.”
She adds that the happy green tint we add to our cookies, cakes and drinks might seem to conjure the rolling green hills of Eire, it can still seem odd to actual Irish people.
“Before I came to America, I’d never seen a green bagel.” She says. “For Irish-Americans, they think of dying food green, they think everything is happy. But really, in terms of the famine, this is very sad imagery.”
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!
You can follow MBQ on Twitter while she seeks out a Guinness real quick-like: @marybethquirk
The Dark History Of Green Food On St. Patrick’s Day [NPR’s The Salt]