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Saturday, March 17, 2007End of an Era
Growing up in a city as diverse as NYC means getting to join on a lot of multi-cultural partying and parades. There are little traditions that become identified with the holiday that really have nothing to do with the holiday itself but it becomes a part of city life…for example March in NYC means St. Patrick’s Day and ever since 1970 Mc Donald’s Shamrock Shakes. It was the one time a year thanks to “Uncle O’ Grimacy” the green triple thick vanilla/mint shakes were available.
Every year except this year that is, this year there is not one frigging Shamrock Shake to be found in NYC and guess who has a major craving one…my mother. She grew up on the frosty green goodness of the shamrock shake; it’s something she’s looked forward to every year since she was eight years old,the return of The Shamrock Shake. Alas there will be no triple thick Shamrock Shake for Maggie this year. It seems that the franchise operators of NYC voted not to carry them here despite the fact that NYC still has a significant Irish population. This in a city full of Mickey D’s that cater to their neighborhood’s demographics and tastes, this from a joint that still offers McVeggie Burgers and daily tempts the hand of borderline racial activists with the Lamb McSpicy and the Mc Rib.
Growing up in the late 60’s/70’s Mc Donald’s was a big thing for a Puerto Rican kid. First of all it was Gringo food therefore not something that was eaten very often. Second of all there were no Mickey D’s in the city. They were all located in the suburbs. So unless your family had a car and your parents were mad cool Mickey D’s was only a dream. My mom was luckier than most kids because her parents had a car and were mad cool so every now and they’d take the long drive into Mineola Long Island and take her to Mickey D’s. They had come to this country as little kids and had been raised here so they knew all about wanting to fit in with the gringos despite their parents desire to keep them from becoming Americanized. To an urban kid going to school on Monday and saying they had gone to Mc Donald’s over the weekend was a status symbol type of thing. Kids envied you even the kids in your own family.
In order to appreciate my mother's facination with Mc Donald's you'd have to understand something about her grandmother. My great-grandmother saw American food as unhealthy she said it had no substance. Remember my great-grandmother and her generation fed their kids and grandchildren as if they were going off to work in the coal mines. Still over the years she started giving in a little. Whenever mom and her cousins would clamor for hamburgers and shakes their abuela (grandmother) would make them hamburgers... Latino style. This involved some adobo seasoned chopped meat freshly grinded in her meat grinder, chopped green pepper, and onion cooked up in her ancient cast iron frying pan. She served it in between two slices of Wonder Bread with kosher pickles from the local deli. The milk shakes were always made of vanilla ice cream flavored with U-Bet flavored syrups if someone wanted a chocolate or strawberry shake. They also included a raw egg and wheat germ because the abuela insisted that if they were going to stuff themselves with that unhealthy gringo drink it at least should have some sort of nutritional value. It never tasted the same as Mickey D’s or the ones served at the diner but they loved their grandma for trying.
I started noticing a few years back that the Shamrock shakes were becoming an endangered species in New York. Not one Mickey D’s in my ‘hood carried them anymore despite their popularity with mom's generation. As a matter of fact none of the Mc Donald's in The Bronx carried them anymore. My dad had to venture into El Barrio in Manhattan to this one Mickey D’s on 3rd avenue for the damn shake. This year however my dad couldn’t locate one for mom. The nearest Mickey D’s that carries the Shamrock Shake to us is 3 hours away. My dad wants her to have her shake so he offered to make mom one today, he claims to have the recipe for the shamrock shake and that it tastes like the real thing. Ma just smiled at him and declined his offer. She said it wouldn’t be the same watching the St. Patrick’s Day Parade with a home made mint shake. I guess it's the end of an era for mom, a connection to her childhood has been severed.
9 comment from: christina/ohio, AMANDA, DannieS72, Ritardo, Emory, Mia, Mia, Harry L, Mia,