If there are two things I have close to an expert's level of knowledge about, they are bread and being Irish. I recently did one of those DNA tests that requires you mail off a test tube containing an unnerving amount of saliva, only to find out I'm more than three quarters Irish — something easily surmised by looking at my freckles and facial features. But like many Irish-Americans, I have always had a strange sense of pride about my heritage. That pride remains mostly bottled up until March 17 rolls around. This year, Trader Joe's Blarney Scone is getting in on the fun, too.
Last week, everyone's favorite hipster grocery store reintroduced their addition to the St. Patrick's Day table in the form of a classic Celtic carbohydrate. The Blarney Scone is described as a "super-dense, scone-shaped hunk of traditional Irish Soda Bread, made with real buttermilk and real butter and studded with raisins and caraway seeds throughout." It is said to be slightly sweet, but not cloyingly so, and a perfect snack when paired with Irish butter and jam. When you think about Irish cuisine, shepherd's pie and corned beef and cabbage likely come to mind (aside from, you know, potatoes.) But soda bread definitely ranks as one of the country's most noteworthy foods. With a texture akin to a scone (fitting, considering the name of the product), the dense dough is typically dotted with raisins or currants.
Plus, it gives us vegetarians a snack option on the frequently meat-laden St. Patrick's Day dinner table.
Almost as charming as this bread's subtle sweetness is the origin of its name. For those unfamiliar, Blarney Scone is a nod to one of Ireland's most well-known tourist attractions: Blarney Castle. While visiting the historic building in county Cork, Ireland, many choose to partake in the storied tradition of dipping their heads backwards to kiss a big block of limestone (known as the Blarney Stone) in hopes of acquiring the gift of gab. If you are not going to be able to get to Ireland in a week, or if the perhaps unsanitary practice does not sound like your cuppa tea, the Blarney Scone is sure to provide an adequate alternative.
St. Patrick's Day is one of those holidays that gets people in the mood to celebrate, but few truly know why it exists in the first place. Green makeup and barhopping are fun, but the history of St. Patrick's Day is equally interesting.
Though nowadays (at least, in the United States) the holiday is primarily viewed as a day to celebrate Irish culture, its roots are actually far more significant that one might expect. In the Catholic faith, Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, meaning he is designated to represent and protect Ireland (there are patron saints of many things: animals, television, etc.) He is reported to have converted many Irish people to Christianity before his death on March 17 — the precise day on which modern St. Patrick's Day celebrations take place.
Even many of the symbols associated with Irish culture — and in turn, St. Patrick's Day — have roots in this tale. The shamrock, a small-stemmed plant with three distinct leaves you might recognize from your emoji keyboard, is said to have been used by Saint Patrick as a model for the Holy Trinity when introducing pagans to Christianity.
There are not many modern holidays that take place mainly to celebrate a certain culture. Of the select few, St. Patrick's Day is certainly the biggest. When the seventeenth of March rolls around in a little over a week, treat yourself to a thick slice of Trader Joe's Blarney Scone, the grocer's take on a traditional— and criminally underrated— Irish comfort food.