I went into a foodie coma today. What can I say? Somehow Saint Patrick’s Day has become an unofficial foodie day. As you may already know I’m all-Italian so my mom never made things like Shepard’s Pie or Corned Beef and Cabbage. She did however make Cabbage and Beans as a first course on cold days. (Sorry Mom, you knew I had to bring that up!)
Anyway, when I was a kid, there were two things that reminded me it was officially this time of year. One were Irish Potatoes (which I’ll get to in a minute), the other, a Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s. Bright green and minty, the once a year treat was always perfect. It was also the only time we frequented McDonald’s aside from the “Black and White shake/French Fry combo while driving around looking at Christmas lights” trip.
So, imagine my surprise when during the first March I was living in New York City, I walked into the “World’s Largest” McDonald’s in Times Square waited in line and smiled. My conversation went a little like this…
“One Medium Shamrock Shake, please.”
This was met with a lot of confusion. “A what?”
“Oh, I asked for a Shamrock Shake. The mint one, is it not out yet?”
“I don’t know what that is, I never heard of that kind of shake. Do you want chocolate?”
“No, thanks. Have a nice day,” I called as I walked out confused, and unsure what just happened. Was she playing a trick on my, cause she figured I was a tourist? Who hasn’t heard of a Shamrock Shake. After stopping into three more McDonald’s on my way back home and getting the same “What’s a Shamrock Shake?” question, I suspected something was awry. It turned out, the Shamrock Shake was regional. And I guess Philly was one of the regions (maybe the only) that had the Shake. Or is it????
Let me tell you what Irish Potatoes Candy are. If your first thought was “Ew, who puts potato in candy?” Well, it’s just a name, there are no potatoes in the candy I am thinking about although there are many recipes where that is an ingredient.
The Irish Potatoes I am thinking about are basically a coconut creme egg rolled in cinnamon instead of being enrobed in chocolate so they resemble little potatoes. To this day, I still think this treat is predominantly South Jersey/Philly (probably because of all the cream cheese, haha) but they are a delicious treat to keep a look out for.
Because of the reasons above, I’ve had to embrace new Saint Patrick’s Day food traditions. One is the green bagel, the other is corned beef. Truth be told, until a few years ago, I never even tried corned beef or pastrami. I couldn’t imagine how my dad could enjoy it. But then I worked in a job where clients would send in trays from the Carnegie Deli and I literally ate my words. All those years…Father did know best!
Let me fast forward to present day, this morning to be exact. After realizing too late that I don’t own anything green to wear, I got to work and sought out someplace to get a green bagel. Don’t be scared, it’s just a plain bagel, tinted green!
Then around lunchtime, my coworkers and I decided to get corned beef sandwiches. I only make it through about 1/2 the sandwich and I still prefer pastrami, but look how juicy that pickle was!
I was satisfied, not stuffed but in the back of my mind I kept hoping that somehow the Shamrock Shake would appear. I even Googled it, fully knowing how crazy that was. Well, I couldn’t believe it. Apparently some genius created a Shamrock Shake tracker site and they finally made their way to the island of Manhattan! Woohoo!
I was on a mission. Clearly, all thoughts of being “full” escaped my memory. I mentally mapped out the closest McDonald’s to work that were known to have the Shakes and when I left for the day, it was on. I texted my sister, she was in. I entered the first one, excited, but apprehensive at what I would here. “We’re sold out, sorry. You know, the parade and all.”
I politely smiled and giggled, while inside I was cursing those damn Shake drinkers. Making my way to the next one on my mental list, the new shoes I was in were causing a combo crushed pinkie toe/Charlie horse. I stopped, pretended I was taking a rock out of my shoe all the while thinking, “This is crazy, this is crazy, you should be going to the gym.” But, I had to try one more time before I gave up.
I held my breath, walked in and waited in a long line. Oh, no! Everyone else heard about this place, I hope they don’t run out before I get to the front! Craining my neck I tried to see what was being handed over. No shakes so far. They were either sold out, or no one had found this gem yet! I anxiously waited my turn when finally, it was my turn!
“Hi, I’d like two Shamrock Shake.”
“Sure,” (woohoo!) “Do you want whipped cream and a cherry on them?”
What? “Oh, uh no, just the shakes, thanks.”
I couldn’t wait to get home to enjoy.
So, how was it? Well, it was frighteningly sweet, I felt nauseous after I drank it and I spent most of the night up in bed with heartburn and agita. Maybe the memories of some things are actually better that the actually thing…