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Oh, Dyngus Day and Drinking with the Prez!

What do an obscure post-Easter holiday, festive libations and Bill Clinton have in common?  Could be the set-up to a punch line, huh?  The answer is not a bacchanalian party with interns, either.

Before doing a quick Google search, I would have sworn that South Bend, a northern Indiana border town, a region referred to as Michiana, on the south bend of the St. Joseph river, in the shadow of our lady’s golden dome, my hometown, was the only place in the U.S. that celebrated a peculiar and festive Polish holiday the Monday after Easter called Dyngus Day.

What did we do before Wikipedia and Google?

Alas, because of Wikipedia, I now know that Buffalo, NY and pockets of New York also celebrate Dyngus Day, this most joyous of celebrations.  Welcome to the party, fellas.  I made it 35 years thinking this goofy slice of Eastern European- cum-Americana was unique to South Bend.  Selfishly, it is somewhat nice to be in on something local, and, well, kooky.  Kind of like that hidden gem of a wine made in absurdly small quantities by the crackpot winemaker.

Dyngus Day is, frankly, an excuse to party, a hump holiday after St. Patrick’s Day and before late spring weather roars to life.  It is a day of beer, polish sausage, boiled eggs, and city-county council members slapping backs and kissing babies at VFW lodges throughout town. 

Undoubtedly, there is some vino being served, too—perhaps some Hungarian vino from Tokaj or a lightly tannic German red wine, something to pair with the food.  Polish sausage, in particular, a zesty sausage that is on our dinner table every Easter, pairs well with a peppery Syrah, even if a Pinot is best for the Easter table.

Besides South Bend being a legacy town with a huge enclave of polish folks and a place where being called a “Polack” is not viewed as an ethnic slur, it is also a town that hosted the former President of the U.S. today.  Indiana, for once, is in the thick of current politics and a primary coming up on May 5th. 


Meanwhile, Bill and Chelsea hit Indiana all day today. They will be there for something called Dyngus Day. According to one Google search, Dyngus Day is a day where guys get to drench gals in water; apparently tomorrow, gals get to throw dishes at the guys. It’s a Polish holiday. Of course, what part of Dyngus Day will Bill Clinton take part in?

That excerpt leads me to the somewhat loosely tied point of this post.  What living president would you want to party with, er, enjoy a glass of wine with?

For my money, out of Jimmy Carter, G.H. Bush, Clinton, and G.W. Bush, you are almost forced into a no-brainer decision.  My personal politics aside, which straddle the middle of the road, when I’m not fantasizing about being a beatnik or a farmer of organic produce on the margins of society, I would definitely choose Clinton.

I think I would pull a Washington state red blend out for him—something with brisk acidity, complexity and abundant fruit.

Dyngus Day aside, which President would you drink with and what would you have?


Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (5) |


On 03/24, Anthony Nicalo wrote:

I met President Clinton at Gibson’s in Chicago. He might be the most charismatic and interesting option. And while I appreciate the Bill would be fun to party with sentiment, I have to choose another POTUS. Clinton is just too Parkerized for my taste. Jimmy Carter, as a man connected to the land through peanut farming, is my first pick. I feel like I could have a glass of authentic wine with Jimmy. And we could share stories made in Chicago- why we support Obama.

On 03/25, Robert wrote:

I too would actually choose Carter. I still have a lot of time for Clinton and I wonder what it would be like to sit down and talk to him, but as he is still quite ‘embedded’ in politics, I think if I were to choose the most interesting person to talk to right now, that would definitely be President Carter.

[aside, does Carter drink or is that a silly question? I have a vague recollection he may have been a tee-totaller, but maybe it was just the religious thing]

On 03/25, el jefe wrote:

I too would enjoy having a glass of wine with President Carter - but PARTYING, definitely a couple bottles of *%#&@! with President Clinton!

(On the non-living partying side, poker, bourbon, and cigars with Truman would top my list wink

On 03/26, Stacy Lastinger wrote:

I too thought I was the only one who knew what Dyngus Day was! (Or at the very least…HEARD of it, I would have thought Indy would be all for it)
Elkhart is my hometown, therefore ‘Michiana’ is my home and Irish (the gold and blue kind) is in my blood.
To party with…definitely Clinton…the most charasmatic of them all.  But if I could go back in time to have my glass of wine with GH Bush…I would discuss NOT letting his kid run the country in the future.

On 03/27, Samantha wrote:

My first thought was much the same, either Clinton or Carter would be a hoot, but I think Stacy had the best idea smile The history of Dyngus days is pretty wicked too, maybe I’ll mark my calendar for a trip to Indiana next year!


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