When you make mashed potatoes and add kale or cabbage; you have made this iconic Irish dish. Some people add other things like bacon fat or smoked pork (Irish bacon.) In my most recent attempt, I topped it with sour cream, lardons, and parsley. I made this for my girlfriend, on St. Patrick’s Day, as she dances in the Irish fashion and is hungry for good foods. It was made with kale and presented in a cool way.

Seattle is lousy with Irish. There are Irish pubs, schools with Irish names, Irish looking fonts, redheads, an Irish ex-mayor, a current Irish mayor, Catholics, and dancers. Irish dancers wear sparkly outfits with capes and big curly wigs. They jump around with high kicks and hard or soft soled shoes. Through my research (see: whiskey) I have found the origins of many of these conventions. The shoes and high kicks came about in the days of yore when it was necessary to harvest potatoes as quickly as possible. The dance steps are modifications to centuries old techniques. The cape was originally a burlap sack that could hold upwards of forty-five pounds of tubers. A skilled dancer could fill this six times in one day. The tayto would fly from the earth, spin, and then join its brethren in the bag. When the immigrants came to America, it became necessary to sell some of their daughters. Ornate dresses with panelling on the skirt were put into service along with wigs to disguise the poor nutrition that led to thin hips and brittle hair. In this way, the Irish genes were spread around the nation. It has been a long time since potato farming was the lot of the Irish.

Now, it is likely that your Russet or Yukon Gold passed through Latin American hands on its way to the supermarket. In a couple of generations, these peoples’ descendants will speak as much Spanish as Seattleite mayors know Gaelic and make rich potato laden stews after dancing dances with dubious origins. They will share recipes with people named O’Connor and wonder what all the fuss was about.


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