Thursday, March 17, 2011

St Patrick's Day feast

Since I'm doing Weight Watchers this year, I guess I won't be having corned beef, cabbage, mashed potatoes with butter, and a few pints of Guinness.

Ah, well. Here's a photo of the St. Patrick's Day feast we held last St. Paddy's Day, with our son and his friend Kate, brother-in-law Davy and his wife Kurly, on the Gulf Coast near Tampa, FL.

What if I just burp to celebrate?

UPDATE: Gilly's question in the comments made me look into the history of corned beef as a traditional St. Pat's day food, and it's fascinating. What the British think of as corned beef was invented in the 18th century, and is chopped up beef put in a can, and preserved with nitrites so that it could feed armies and navies and be shipped to the colonies. Many of the packing and curing factories were in Ireland, using Irish cattle that grazed on land that the British had cleared of Irish farmers and peasants.

Irish people were generally too poor to buy the canned preserved beef, and resorted to eating potatoes they grew on the poorer soil, with maybe some salt pork for flavoring.

In 19th century America, Jewish immigrants made a cured beef product with salt - koshered. Because it was cheap and available in the urban neighborhoods Irish immigrants shared with the Jewish community, over the generations it became identified as a Irish ethnic food.

So, Gilly - you're right, it's a different corned beef than you're familiar with in England. It's a beef brisket, cooked in a spiced brine.

L' Chiam! Slainte!

7 comments:

Gilly said...

The photograph looked so much more appetising than your description!! I'm thinking maybe your corned beef is not our corned beef! And obviously 'cabbage' is so much more delicious than 'cabbage' here!!

And as for those mashed potatoes - I'm drooling!

Pernicious Panda said...

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I've been enjoying your family/genealogy stories in the archives. Keep up the good work!

kcinnova said...

I'm skipping the cabbage, but we'll have roasted potatoes and corned beef, along with green grapes, green bell pepper slices, and food-colored dye GREEN milk. (And Guinness for my husband.)

My concession to diet is to skip the mashed potatoes made with butter and sour cream. *sigh*

Aunt Snow said...

Hi, Gilly,

I think English "corned beef" is something in a can, right?

I just read about that in Wikipedia, I'll update my post.

Here it is a beef brisket, wet-cured in spiced brine.

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I actually did have corned beef and cabbage, from a restaurant! I so rarely eat it and it just sounded good this year, but with my kitchen torn up...I had to buy mine!

Alexia said...

In the South Pacific, the canned corned beef is something they ship to places like Samoa and Rarotonga which don't produce any meat. On some islands it has become a staple food, preferred (incomprehensibly) over fish and vegetables. It is extremely unhealthy, being fat- and calorie-laden, and with huge amounts of salt. It probably makes a sizeable contribution to the obesity, diabetes and other health problems of those islanders.

Here (New Zealand) it is also beef brisket, spiced and "corned" (cured in brine). It's delicious if it's well cooked; it certainly looks appetising in your picture. I had never associated it with being a particularly "Irish" dish, though.

Slainte!

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

The traditional Irish dish that corned beef and cabbage "mimics" is boiling bacon (a cured pork loin) and cabbage.

It's funny to think of corned beef and cabbage as "fusion" food.