Pretending to be Irish


Irish soda bread, reminds me of cold, wet Marches at home. Every year my mom makes Irish soda bread for St. Patrick’s Day. She usually makes it all by herself but I have recently started helping her. She uses the same recipe each year, though each year she adds something new.

My family has very little Irish heritage, so we always invite some of my mom’s friends from work who are actually Irish over, to make up for our lack of Irishness.

Our big dinner is made up of family and friends, good cheer, laughter and, most important, excellent food. My mom makes boiled potatoes and corned beef with shredded carrots and cabbage. All of this is cooked in her giant blue crock pot. As a side we eat the Irish soda bread with unhealthy amounts of butter.

To make the bread we mix buttermilk and sour cream in a bowl and then add the dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and raisins or currants all get added to the dairy, making a thick dough. We usually use raisins except when I’m helping my mom grocery shop and I don’t read the labels — raisins and currants look the same to me.

The sweet delicious dough does not last long outside of the oven, we often snack on it only later realizing that we have to make more dough if we are actually going to have enough bread for everyone. The smooth sweet taste of sugar and cream makes me happy. It reminds me of simpler times, like when I was little and my mother would let me lick the spoon and bowl when she was done baking or a time when homework was non-existent and my biggest worry was what was for dessert.

In the morning my mom gets up and makes the dough, lets it rise and then puts it in the over in the early afternoon. It bakes for an hour or so and then she lets it sit until the guests arrive. Then she warms it back up and we sit down to the feast before us.

Irish soda bread also reminds me of the injustice of the fact the we have school on that holiday. Often we will reschedule, planning that the next Saturday we will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

My favorite part of Irish soda bread is attempting to chew and swallow it. It is so dense my mouth feels like it’s chewing a sweet delicious sponge. The crust, crunches and feels as if I am attempting to swallow a soft stone. The lack of taste of this part of the bread causes it to need lots of butter in order for me to eat it.

Soda bread reminds me of my favorite weather and my favorite people, and of course my favorite food.