Growing up in Boston, and even though I am not of Irish decent, (the majority of my friends were either Irish or Italian, and I had one best girlfriend, Sophia, that was Orthodox Greek) I always felt a strong connection to the Irish heritage. As I write, I am cooking my bolied dinner of Gray Corned Beef Brisket, round white potatoes, sweet orange carrots and Irish green cabbage.
I set out yesterday to buy the gray corned beef from the only purveyor in VT: Shaws Supermarkets. My eldest son is home on college break, so we made an afternon of it. We arrived at Shaws in Williston, only to be told the gray is gone! Now mind you, the red corned beef was plentiful and inexpensive, but as anyone from Boston knows, the gray is the way to go. We grabbed the meat manager and asked him to call Colchester and Stowe, which he was more than happy to do.
Meanwhile, one of his employees was filling the red and overheard our conversation and luckily had reached in to find one lonely gray left behind in the back of the case. Needless to say, I did a little jig and threw my arms around him with a big hug, exclaiming, "I gotta hug and kiss you!" As all this is going on, another shopper over hears my statement about the gray and says, "Wait, there is something better?" I explained to her about my corned beef expereinces growing up and that once you've had the gray, you don't look back.
Funny thing, she was from Stowe and was now on her way home going to grab a gray if they had any left at her local Shaws. I told her I was from Cambridge and she didn't know where that was? Odd, we are on the other side of Smugglers' Notch where our towns border! Being form Boston we know all the neighborhoods(cities) that make up the city of Boston and all the various traditions, too. However, I did assure her that the red was fine and good for Reuben's, as that is what she was going to prepare today for her family.
As for me, the luck of the Irish was with me, for the meat manager in Colchester had 4 gray left and willing held them for us. Thankfully, our tradition has been preserved, as my family enjoys this feast of Saint Patrick every year. I usually buy a dozen or more to freeze and enjoy throughout the year, but I am thankful what I got for our feast today.
So, no matter what you eat, or how you celebtrate, please have a wonderful St, Paddy's Day. As I part, my wish to you and yours is: "May the road rise up to meet you, May the wind be at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields; and until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand. Irish Proverb
At least that is what I am hoping for myself and my next adventure, as I now head out in search of Irish Soda Bread at Johnson's Sterling Market, for that was gone as well at both Shaws stores.