Friday, March 14, 2008

Celebrate St. Pat’s Day with green chile and a turquoise margarita

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — It’s hard to imagine a worse time for a fiesta than Monday — especially the way some revelers choose to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in America.
If your idea of full-tilt erin go bragh involves consuming massive quantities of green beer, your work week could be off to a rocky start.
Since many of us are still coping with sleep deprivation and playing catch-up with REM time after last Sunday’s Daylight Saving Time switch, it’s hard to spring forward into a new fiesta mode.
The thing is, most of us aren’t Irish anyway. According to, “Irish is among the top five ancestries in every state but two: Hawaii and New Mexico.”
The same site tells us Ireland is the source of the nation’s second most frequently reported ancestry and that 34.5 million United States residents claim Irish ancestry, “almost nine times the population of Ireland itself: (4.1 million).”
So St. Patrick’s Day is arguably more All-American than Irish, through it commemorates what is believed to be the day of death of Patrick, who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century.
Like most New Mexicans, Patrick wasn’t Irish, either. He was born in Britain, and was captured as a teenager by Irish raiders. He made good his escape, returned home and became a deacon, a bishop and later a missionary to the land of his former captors, so successfully that he became Ireland’s patron saint.
It’s an interesting story and worthy of some sort of celebration.
And we do celebrate. According to, 8 million of us will send cards, making St. Patrick’s day observance the ninth-largest card-sending occasion in the United States, and 93.3 million of us plan to wear green.
The numbers vary according to several Web sites I checked, but the consensus is, we’ll blow a bundle on things like green beer, corned beef and cabbage, shamrock plants and green and white chrysanthemums.
I say, let’s give St. Pat his due, but do it the Nuevo Mexico way.
Monday, like any time in the Land of Enchantment, is a great day for the wearin’ o’ the turquoise and the eatin’ of the green chile.
And there are places in the Mesilla Valley where you can combine both…and even add a third dimension with the eatin’ o’ the green chile, and the wearin’ — and drinkin’ — o’ the turquoise.
The Double Eagle in Mesilla has a signature drink that includes a real chunk of turquoise, all polished and suitable for plucking out and saving to create a jewelry souvenir.
“It’s a best-seller, very popular with tourists We use a touch of blue curacao (an orange liqueur with a deep blue color) to give it a turquoise blue color when mixed with the light yellow sweet ’n’ sour,” said Double Eagle manager Jerry Harrell, who invites alternative St. Pat’s day revelers to “come have a couple and make a set of earrings!”
Or green purists could get the color right and still keep the local emphasis by imbibing green chile beer.
It’s a pan-cultural, fiesta-fusion, win-win celebration. ¡Viva San Patricio!
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

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