Why We Eat Chinese Food on St. Patrick’s Day

It’s St. Patrick’s Day… and the traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage alongside a dark stout or porter is being served in many homes, bars and pubs.

I grew up with a strong Irish influence by way of my grandfather. St. Patrick’s Day was a day to gather around, enjoy a good meal and a few drinks, share tales of the “little people” (Leprechauns) and perhaps sing a few Irish drinking songs.

We usually had a big St. Patty’s day party and from a very young age, I would sing and dance with theย Shillelagh (a traditional Irish walking stick).

However, for the past eight years, my husband and I have skipped this Irish feast in favor of a different meal choice.



Are we bucking the trend? Thumbing our noses at convention? Making a statement?

While we’ve been known to do all of these things, and we are disappointed in the quality of many commercially available corned beefs (it’s easy to DIY corned beef by the way- check out this recipe), I’m happy to say that this new tradition is to commemorate a very sweet, sentimental occasion.

Eight years ago today, Matt asked me to marry him.
On St. Patrick’s Day.
On bended knee.
At home.
By way of a fortune cookie.
After a lackluster take-out Chinese meal.
It was sweet, simple and totally amazing.

The story is this…

Eight years ago, we had planned to go out for St. Patrick’s Day, but after a long day, decided to stay in. I hadn’t planned to prepare the traditional Irish meal, didn’t want to go to the store and nobody felt like cooking anyway.

At that time, we were definitely NOT living the real food lifestyle and so we ordered from a local Chinese restaurant. I think it was Matt’s suggestion, but it wasn’t unusual so I didn’t question it.

He went to pick it up and came home with the usual assortment of containers and chopsticks. He casually mentioned that they’d given him a whole bunch of extra fortune cookies. Big whoop, I thought.

We ate and watched TV and when we’d finished our meal,ย  he said that I had to eat at least 3 fortune cookies. I protested. I didn’t really like fortune cookies and I certainly didn’t want three. Poor thing! He had a plan and I was unknowingly ruining it!

But he persisted, and doled out the cookies one at a time. Upon opening the first one, it had a very nice fortune that said something along the lines ofย  “You are very loved”. I thought that was sweet.

My second fortune cookie predicted that
“This will be a special night to remember”.

I remember thinking these were unlike any other fortune cookies I’d ever seen and as I opened the third one, I didn’t even notice Matt walking over to me.

“You will say YES to a very important question”…. it read.

I looked up and there he was, in front of me, on one knee, holding out the most gorgeous ring I’d ever seen. He was beaming and said how much he loved me and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.

“Will you marry me?”ย  The important question had been asked.

“YES!!!!” I exclaimed.

We were so excited and after laughing over my stubbornness to play along by eating fortune cookies, we decided to call our families with the happy news.

My Irish grandfather was actually the first person to hear the news.

How fitting on such a special day!

So, each year, as we approach the day of green and gold, we make plans not for home curing corned beef, but for what new Asian delight we’ll enjoy. This year, we’re making Asian lettuce wraps with slow roasted pastured pork shoulder and fragrant Five Spice blend. I’ve shared the recipe with you HERE.

Fortune cookies became a great symbol for us and we gave custom cookies for wedding favors and used silver fortune cookies in our wedding decor. I have one that sits on my desk, that holds our wedding “fortune” along with a framed four-leaf clover that Matt gave me that following St. Patrick’s Day (we were married exactly one year and a week after the engagement). I’d love to try my hand at homemade, gluten-free fortune cookies!

So, that’s our story. On this St. Patrick’s Day, as we eat our Chinese food, we are sending you a bit of luck and whole bunch of love!

Do you have any St. Patrick’s Day traditions?
Special proposal stories?

Comment and share with us!

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