The Commodification of Celebration


Who moved the holiday and didn’t tell me? Being that a large chunk of my DNA was fermented in Ireland, I think I should have been informed. Consulted even.

This morning my son told me he had to wear green. I was greeted at the gate to work with “Happy St. Patrick’s Day”. The first person I saw when I came in was wearing green. I hurried into my office to make sure it wasn’t the 17th and I hadn’t missed my mortgage payment. Sure enough, it’s the 15th.

I hate it when people celebrate holidays that are meant to mark a specific day on a different day. You pick a secular, temporal holiday with no metaphorical value (don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with that. Especially if it involves drinking.) and then change the date to make it more convenient. What’s the point? And the one’s who are always most excited about this particular holiday usually aren’t even fucking Irish. What’s next? Will we be changing the metaphorical birthday of a primary deity because the pagans are partying already anyway? This holiday is such a pitifully obvious commodification of celebration  – No self-respecting Irishman, or woman, would put a drinking holiday in the middle of Lent. Even a protestant one.

Do you see me going around changing the date of Holi to suit my fancy? No. Do I throw a fiesta on my birthday because it’s the day after after Cinco de Mayo and it’s just more convenient for my friends? Or change the date of my birthday to coincide with already established celebrations? Oh – wait -I guess there is a strong precedent for the commandeering of culture and the commodification of celebration that has already been set – on the 25th of December.

Never mind.  Could someone pass me a Guinness?

Vegetarian Shepard’s Pie

images (10)

1 1/2 cups low-sodium mushroom broth
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, and cut into large dice
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
5 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium celery root, peeled and small dice
3 medium carrots, peeled and small dice
2 medium parsnips, peeled and small dice
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2/3 cup whole milk
Directions
In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, wine, tomato paste, and flour until evenly combined and smooth. Stir in dried mushrooms and set aside to reconstitute, at least 30 minutes. Strain mushrooms before using, reserving liquid.

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with heavily salted water by 2 inches. Bring potatoes to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat the oven on low broil and place a rack in the upper third. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 3 to 4-quart Dutch oven (or oven-ready saucepan) over medium-high heat. When it foams, add half the mushrooms and cook, stirring rarely, until mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pan, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and set aside. Repeat to cook off remaining mushrooms.

Return pan to stove over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter, onion, celery, and garlic, and cook until softened and golden, about 2 minutes. Add celery root, carrot, parsnip, and herbs, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until browned and softened, about 6 minutes.

Add wine mixture to pan and deglaze by stirring and scraping up any browned bits. Let cook until simmering and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in reserved mushrooms and any juices that have accumulated and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve in pan.

When potatoes are ready, drain well. Return to pan and mash until uniformly smooth. Fold in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and milk, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If necessary, keep warm over low heat.

Dot potatoes over vegetable mixture and spread to edges of pan to cover completely. Rough up the surface of the potatoes so there are bits that will get browned and crunchy. Broil until top is golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve.

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