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My Site: Day 44: Ireland

My Site

 
 

Day 44: Ireland

Apparently, there has been some concern about my drinking. GirlfriendBites parents were the first to bring it up, but before going out for this evening’s meal, GFB expressed some concern as well— calling the amount of drinking something that I might not want to “advertise”. A long time ago I had the idea that it would be pretty funny if, for Ireland Day, I got really drunk, added a disclaimer and then saw what happened if I attempted to write the entire blog in an inebriated state when I got home. Would it be full of hilarious typos? Would it be absolute gibberish? Would it be exactly the same? Or even better? With a new post coming out every single day, I thought it might make for an interesting change. But if there is concern about my drinking, bringing it up on Ireland Day is a pretty hilarious time to go about it. However, her concerns are legitimate. Do I sound like a raging alcoholic? Do I talk about drinking too much? Heck, I even posed a question to Chef Pascal Olhats about what he would cook for a VIP customer if it was 3 AM and he was absolutely plastered. So rather than simply toning down the drinking quietly, I figured I would attack it head on— starting by seeing how much I’ve actually been drinking over the past 43 days.

Legitimately Drunk
France
Lithuania
Russia
Italy
North Korea
Spain

More Than One Drink, But Not Inebriated
Nigeria
Burma
Canada
Germany
Ecuador
England
Poland
Honduras
Thailand
Argentina

Just One Drink
Ethiopia
Cambodia
Croatia (a couple of sips of Mr. Meatball’s 2 beers)
South Africa

So that’s 20 times drinking alcohol over the last 43 days. Is that more than I should probably be drinking under ordinary circumstances? Maybe. It’s certainly more than I would be drinking under normal circumstances— but it definitely wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary in a lot of other cultures. In many of them, drinking is a huge part of the experience. Russian food likes vodka, French and Italian foods like wine and German food likes beer. In cases like those, it is a total part of the meal and one that seems foolish to miss out on. Do you need to get drunk to have a good time? Of course not. But it is fun. In other cases, especially early on, the drinking lent itself to the celebratory nature of the Personal Food Project in Blog Form. I’m only going to eat this food once, I’m with friends, the food is great, let’s keep celebrating. Other times a beer is the only native beverage on the menu. Do I need it? No. But regional beverages tend to go quite well with the food. An expensive Burgundy won’t go as well with a simple grilled meat plate on a small Greek island as a cheap local wine you buy out of a plastic bottle at a corner shop. There are obviously exceptions, but people have modified their food and drink, sometimes for centuries, until the two components fit together perfectly.

So am I an alcoholic? Am I too comfortable with the word “drunk”? Maybe. But I stand behind what I’m doing as being an important part of the project, even if it can go too far on certain evenings, and I’m certainly not going to fudge the numbers or write things any differently than how they actually happen. But if some lovely person who checks out this blog wants to invite me over for a nice ethnic dinner and I walk through the door, only to find myself at an intervention instead, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. But for the record, the vast majority of my ethnic make up is Italian, Irish and Russian. By that I mean— if the government were trying to build an alcohol drinking super spy, that might be the exact ethnic combination they’d choose.



Finn McCool’s in Santa Monica, CA. I arrive with GirlfriendBites and find Mr. Meatball and three work friends already at a table. I steal bites of their mini Yorkshire pudding and fried calamari. The food is relatively adequate, but not doing the Irish stereotype of bad food any favors. The Yorkshire pudding, with tough roast beef and vaguely horseradish tinted cream sauce, is under seasoned and uninspiring. More and more friends begin to arrive as the evening turns into some bizarre Man Bites World All-Star Game. GFB, Meatball, O’Ryan, Erin, folk hero Jason Bernstein, “Danielle”, Shana, British Guy, Meatball’s Boss, Bosque and even MamaBites, with a quick pop-in. My mother’s father was Irish and liked to drink Jameson, so she feels the need to come and share a shot with me in his honor on her way home from a dinner with friends. So Mamabites, GFB and I raise a glass for my grandfather and sling it back. Whiskey, it seems, is not GFB’s strong suit and she makes a wonderfully sour face.


We’re talking, laughing and enjoying ourselves as people begin to order food. Meatball gets a “Traditional Irish Combination Plate” which includes shepherd’s pie, beef stew and a chicken basil boxty (a boxty is like a crepe made out of potatoes, with the main ingredients tossed inside like a quesadilla). I’m not crazy about the stew, finding that it has an incredibly flat and dull set of flavors for the entire back half of the bite. The boxty, meanwhile, tastes like when you’re in your college cafeteria and the special of the day is something bizarre like a “Philly Cheese and Chicken Wrap”, but you eat it happily because the breaded chicken patties from the day before tasted like hockey pucks. The shepherd’s pie, however, while not in any way amazing, is perfectly edible for a night of drinking. The best thing so far, though, is Shana’s corned beef with cabbage and horseradish cream. Salty, meaty and with a big hunk of cooked cabbage. It’s not a precise, delicate dish, but it’s damned tasty.

I decide to take a different route and sit down to a traditional Irish breakfast of eggs over easy, Irish bacon, sausage, potato pancakes, sauteed mushrooms, cooked tomatoes and soda bread. It’s pretty darn satisfying when you let the yolk break, grabbing all of the exterior components and pulling them into the center to create some kind of a carbohydrate-laden protein amusement park. A pint of Guinness on the side helps too. The night wears on and people are having a great time— but I’m exhausted and ready to head in earlier than everyone else. So the big question is— how much did I drink for Ireland Day? After heavy food and four drinks over three hours, I would have to throw it in the “More Than One Drink, But Not Inebriated” category. Sorry to disappoint, but after consecutive nights of very little sleep with an epic evening of food and drink just one night before, there just isn’t much place for it. It is great to see all of these friends gathered together on such a gorgeous evening, but my mattress misses me and I want to be able to accommodate it. I have a feeling there might be another occasion for celebration some time down the road.

Finn McCool’s
2702 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 452-1734

Food Breakdown: 4 alcoholic beverages (with 2 bought for me by other people) and 1 breakfast entree
Price: $30
Distance From My House: 6.4 miles

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Comments

  1. Mamabites · Oct 19, 01:58 PM

    I think you make a good point about food and alcohol. The do go so well together. You wouldn’t be painting a complete picture of a culture without including what they drink. It’s also pretty unusual to be going out to dinner 44 nights in a row. GFB and her parents are seeing you in the midst of research and yes, it includes some drinking. There have been times when you haven’t been drinking at all. I’m also happy to let them know that you are responsible by nature and I am so proud of you and your friends when they do things like take a cab downtown for some Chinese food so that no one has to be the designated (or intoxicated) driver. Did I just make a point for EXCESSIVE drinking? Well, it’s not and certainly responsible. Don’t worry GFB and family and MBW followers, is no need of an intervention. I think the irish, italian, russian reference is hysterical. You were certainly raised with families that appreciate and enjoy spirits, and fortunately with the outlook of “everything in moderation…including moderation”, which I think you just explained beautifully.

  2. Mr. Meatballs · Oct 20, 02:27 PM

    Having a very personal stake in this whole thing, I have to agree with MamaBites. Drinking becomes a problem when it actually causes other parts of your life to deteriorate. In this case, drinking does precisely the opposite. It’s in integral part of this journey for understanding other cultures through their food. Humans have been drinking alcohol for thousands of years, probably for as long as there have been “cuisines,” and likely longer than that. In all honesty, the fact that you DIDN’T get fully inebriated on Irish day is a testament to your own temperance, self control, and ability to rationally preserve your body—things that all go out the window when you have a drinking “problem.”

    Drink on, merry blogger. Drink on.

  3. MOGFB · Oct 22, 09:49 PM

    Oh man. I want to be known as the cool mom and now I’ve got this horrid teetotaler reputation. My passing comment a few weeks ago was made after reading an entry written when you were feeling really bad from the night before. I do know how responsible you are and at least when GFB is with you I know you’ll have a designated driver as needed. I love the blog and I love how immersed you are getting in the complete cultural experience that as you point out would be incomplete without all of the appropriate drinks. I rarely drink but that’s primarily because of migraines so you’ll have to enjoy some drinks on my behalf.

  4. GirlfriendBites · Oct 23, 05:26 PM

    what have i started?

  5. Mamabites · Oct 23, 09:31 PM

    No worries MOGFB. I think this was a good discussion about food and drink and how it defines a culture. How can you not be cool when you are the mother of GFB?

  6. Kate · Dec 09, 09:24 AM

    Dear Mother of God. As an Irish person living in Dublin, I can safely say none of that resembles Irish food to me.

  7. Noah · Dec 09, 09:41 AM

    Not even the beef and cabbage?