Did St. Patrick Like Corned Beef? Well, no. It wasn’t that the saint himself wouldn’t have appreciated a good corn beef on rye with a schmear of mustard, or a plate full of spuds and carrots boiled in the broth of a nice corned beef brisket. It’s just that St. Paddy was born in the fourth century and the corning process of meat didn’t really emerge until the 1700′s.
Now that being said, I’m sure if St Patrick where to beam back to modern day Ireland he would sit down with the rest of his fellow Irishmen to a great plate of corned beef and cabbage. Well, wrong again. Though a corned beef brisket is certainly available in Ireland today, it wouldn’t be the go to meal for a celebration. In fact corned beef has no connection to the celebration of St. Paddy’s day in Ireland what so ever.
So my fellow lovers of corned beef and St Patrick’s Day celebrations, why is corned beef the go to meal in the US? Why in fact is corned beef and cabbage almost synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day? Well we can attribute this connection to our emigrant ancestors and their connection to Ireland. Many were forced out of Ireland due to the Great Hunger, commonly referred to as the Potato Famine. Many left Ireland to seek their fortunes in America, and still others were rovers at heart. They left the shores of Ireland with a love of the island still, most knowing they would not return, but still hoping circumstances would allow them someday to do so. With their arrival they brought with them tales of songs and stories and celebrations to pay homage to their former home.
OK! Why corned beef?
Well we go back to our emigrant ancestors fighting for their piece of the American dream. These were not easy times, many were competing for jobs, businesses, a way to grow and establish themselves in a new land. This mean’t that money was tight and a roast of beef was out of the question for a St. Patricks day feast. But you know the Jewish butcher down the street had some inexpensive cured brisket that if you simmered it for four or five hours transformed into a delicious bit of meat. Add some potatoes, some carrots, and a head of cabbage and it was truly a meal fit for a Saint.
The Irish of Boston and New york grew up on corned beef, and we still celebrate our immigrant past with a pot of corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s day. Put this meal on the table, add some good Irish music and a pint of the black stuff and you have my favorite meal in the world. Yes corned beef and cabbage is an Americanized St. Patricks day celebration. One that I am very proud of. One that pays tribute to my ancestors who dealt with horrors, obstacles, and still persevered, allowing their prodigy a great life. One that pays homage to Ireland herself, plants the seed for we sons and daughters of Irish rovers to return to the land of our forefathers.
So the next time someone says corned beef and cabbage isn’t Irish, tell them why it is.