I’ve just polished off my second dinner of Irish stew that my husband, Ed Piwowarczyk, made to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Piwowarczyk, you say? That doesn’t sound Irish.
It isn’t. Ed’s background is Polish on both sides of his family, but for the past five years he’s made it his business to make Irish stew for the Irish holiday. He’s experimented with recipes, and each year’s concoction is a little different. Lamb, barley and, of course, Guinness, are the common elements.
This year’s stew was the best to date. Ed added parsnips, which I haven’t tasted since my mother cooked them, pearl onions, bacon and table cream. But instead of adding boiled potatoes to the mix, he dished up the stew on a bed of mashed potatoes. Delectable!
Ed accompanied his stew with glasses of Guinness, soda bread and followed it up with shots of Jameson Irish whiskey. Hey, I’ve come a long way since Mom toasted St. Paddy with green Jello topped with Reddi-Wip!
And this year Ed pulled out all the stops and brought home a shamrock plant to replace the one that recently died on me.
The reason for all the fuss on March 17? Well, Ed knows that, with my Irish background, I have a sentimental attachment to the Wearing of the Green. But it goes deeper than that. This man has an affinity for things Irish that I can’t claim.
He loves contemporary Irish music. Musicians such as U2, the Pogues, Van Morrison, Sinéad O’Connor. The Irish Tenors. He was in his element when we visited Ireland in 2006. “The Polish and the Irish have a lot in common,” I overheard him saying at a Dublin pub. “The same exuberant love of life. And both like to champion lost causes.”
He’s clearly looking forward to another trip to the Emerald Isle.
Come to think of it, Poland and Ireland are two countries I really want to revisit. Great people, great food. Great music.
And family backgrounds may have something to do with it as well.