St. Patrick’s Day, Horseradish and the Firehouse

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

A holiday that is synonymous with parades and drinking green beer in excessive quantities.  Here I am feeling sorry for myself that the streets will be full of drunken people, but at least it’s only for a day, in Dublin they celebrate for five days.

UH-OH! Apparently I should get out more often, as I just learned that this year St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated on March 15. Apparently the Roman Catholic Church can move the date around when it falls during Holy Week.  I guess it wouldn’t be seemly to have a drunken holiday during the solemn days leading up to Easter, but in our heart of hearts, we all know that today is really St. Patrick’s Day.

When I was a kid, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at our local firehouse with a traditional boiled dinner: corned beef, potatoes and cabbage. I remember pouring vinegar on the cabbage and letting it run into the boiled and buttered potatoes, and then slathering the meat with thick, white horseradish sauce.  I haven’t thought about horseradish sauce in such a long time, or boiled dinners at the firehouse. We had a volunteer fire department and the firehouse was a community gathering place where they held potluck dinners and where my mother went inside a mysterious curtained booth to vote. It was one of those kid things that you just take for granted, and I’m just now realizing how lucky I was to have that sense of community, and safety, and belonging.
I’m also just realizing that I miss horseradish sauce.

2 T butter
2 T flour
2 T horseradish
1 Cup milk
Salt to taste

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisk in the flour and stir constantly until the flour starts to color (but don’t let it get brown), then slowly add the milk, and continue whisking until the sauce thickens.  Add the horseradish and a bit of salt to taste. Memories and corned beef are optional.

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