We asked an Irish chef what to eat on St. Patrick’s Day, and these are her childhood faves

The luck of the Irish is so near, we can almost feel it: St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner on March 17th — a Saturday this year — and though you may already know which cocktails you’ll be serving and which table runner you’d like to DIY for your big holiday bash, you might still be wondering what exactly to eat on St. Patrick’s Day (both to celebrate the traditional Irish holiday and to avoid a massive hangover).

To help you get your menu sorted out, we spoke to Irish chef Gemma Stafford of Bigger Bolder Baking. Born in a small town in the South East of Ireland, Stafford grew up cooking and baking in the kitchen with her mom and four siblings. Today, she lives in Southern California and is famed for popularizing the microwave “mug meal” — you know what we’re talking about: 1-minute mug brownies, mug pizza, mug ramen, and so much more.

“Growing up in Ireland, I have celebrated many St. Patrick’s Days. When I was young, it was all about going to the parade in my town with my dad, brother, and sisters. Everyone would be wearing fresh shamrocks pinned with a safety pin on our jackets watching decorated floats, musicians, and dancers go by,” Stafford says.

Stafford spoke to HelloGiggles about what to eat on St. Patrick’s Day, sharing some childhood memories, recipes — and essential tips for avoiding a green-beer induced hangover.

First things first: You’ll want to eat a solid breakfast on St. Paddy’s Day.

"In Ireland, our traditional breakfast consists of three different types of pork, eggs, beans, soda bread, and a pot of tea," says Stafford. "It might sound like a lot for breakfast, but there is a method to our madness. Once you have this in your stomach you are good to go!"

Translation? Eat an Irish brekkie if you want to avoid a hangover later.

As for lunch, look forward to more meat and comfort foods. Stafford says that, as a child, while she was at the parade with her dad and siblings, her mom would be at home preparing everything the family would eat on St. Patrick’s Day.

“Traditionally on St. Patrick’s Day we would eat corned beef and cabbage,” Stafford explains. “Corned beef is ‘salted beef’ and was used as a way of preserving the meat. The cabbage would be cooked in the same pot as the beef simmered. Served with mashed potato, you wouldn’t call the queen your aunt.”

While St. Patrick’s Day stateside isn’t quite the same as it is in Ireland, Stafford says she loves the holiday here. “I have never seen a St. Patrick’s Day like I have in the U.S.,” Stafford says. “The parades are incredible, and it’s really great to see people embrace their Irish heritage and community. It makes me very proud to be Irish!”

So enjoy St. Paddy’s Day this year, and don’t forget to eat like the Irish.

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