For those of us of Irish ancestry, St. Patrick's Day usually inspires very mixed feelings. Certainly there is great pride and pleasure in seeing people around the world embrace your culture, even if it's just by digging out a green sweater from the bottom of the closet that only gets worn once a year. And who doesn't love the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, and its annual reminder of fellowship and friendship -- indeed, there's much to be said for any day that asks you to forget your problems for a few hours and knock back a pint.
On the other hand, there is also no other holiday so plagued by tired clichés, the ones that make Ireland seem like a cultural and culinary backwater, and Irish-descended Americans seem like a bunch of leprechaun-obsessed goofballs. I'm horrified when I see non-Irish people celebrating the day with boiled-to-its-flavorless-death corned beef and cabbage and green beer.
That's not my idea of Irish, I want to scream, over the din of the Clancy Brothers inevitably playing on the jukebox.
So we got to thinking about a more modern-day approach to this vastly traditional holiday, a way to make it so that St. Patrick's Day wasn't just a bunch of emerald-tinted blarney.
Might there be a way, for instance, to serve up that old staple of corned beef and cabbage in a way that you've never tasted?
Is there a bar or pub where St. Paddy's Day can be celebrated with a little more style than usual? A drink that's a little more imaginative than your standard pint of Guinness (or, even worse, that infernally named concoction the "Irish car bomb")?
Are there Irish musicians, novelists and filmmakers who break out of the usual mold, and point the way forward for the culture?
We sent our (mostly non-Gaelic) staff into the field to do a little homework, and here's what it came back with -- a celebration of Irish heritage that pays heed to the past but also looks to the future.
Certainly this isn't to say that some of the Irish clichés aren't terrific. I, for one, never met an IRA thriller I couldn't sit through (usually while eating a big bowl of boiled potatoes). But there's also much to be said for creating new traditions to go alongside the old ones. We like to think of it as St. Paddy's Day, Deconstructed.
So follow a few of our suggestions to make this holiday one to remember. Have fun, be responsible, and stay safe.
Oh, and remember, if you see me on the street this weekend: Kiss me, I'm Irish!
Don't miss our 2012 St. Patrick's Day DFW party guide.
Tired of the fish and chips and Irish nachos that tend to define St. Pat's grub? You can get creative fare, and interesting twists on Irish faves at some DFW restaurants. Check out Teresa Gubbins' piece on these delicious updates.
Why is Mark Cuban in this Irish-centric story? He's magically delicious. Find out why.
Our weekend chef gives the traditional corned beef and cabbage a modern twist, by cooking it sous vide -- a method that's both scientific, and French! Click here to find out how he did it.
And now, for something completely different: Gaelic football!
Eddie "Lucky" Campbell of the Chesterfield in Dallas tells us how to shake up a St. Pat's cocktail that goes beyond Guinness.
Weary of hearing the Chieftans, U2 and Flogging Molly every St. Patrick's Day? Try a new Irish artist like the terrific Lisa Hannigan.
Hit pause on the typical Irish films and check in with The Guard.
Looking for some Irish writing that busts the musty stereotypes of the classics? Try thriller writer Alan Glynn. Christopher Kelly extols the virtues of Glynn's Bloodland.
In fashion, it's easy to be stylish when you go for green this spring.
Wiener dog races! An unusual St. Patrick's Day event, for a good, canine cause.