Why Do American Irish Eat Corned Beef And Cabbage

By the end of the 18th century, the demand for Irish corned beef began to decline as the North American colonies began producing their own. Over the next 50 years, the glory days of Irish corned beef ended. By 1845, a potato blight broke out in Ireland, completely destroying the food source for most of the Irish population, and the Great Famine began. Without help from the British government, the Irish people were forced to work to death, starve or immigrate. About a million people died, and another million immigrated on “coffin ships” to the U.S. To this day, the Irish population is still less than it was before the Great Famine.

Yet the corned beef the Irish immigrants ate was much different from that produced in Ireland 200 years prior. The Irish immigrants almost solely bought their meat from kosher butchers. And what we think of today as Irish corned beef is actually Jewish corned beef thrown into a pot with cabbage and potatoes. The Jewish population in New York City at the time was made up of relatively new immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe. The corned beef they made was from brisket, a kosher cut of meat from the front of the cow. Since brisket is a tougher cut, the salting and cooking processes transformed the meat into the extremely tender, flavorful corned beef we know of today.

The popularity of corned beef and cabbage never crossed the Atlantic to the homeland. Instead of corned beef and cabbage, the traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal eaten in Ireland is lamb or bacon. In fact, many of what we consider St. Patrick’s Day celebrations didn’t make it there until recently. St. Patrick’s Day parades and festivals began in the U.S. And, until 1970, pubs were closed by law in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day. It was originally a day about religion and family. Today in Ireland, thanks to Irish tourism and Guinness, you will find many of the Irish American traditions.

Ironically, the ones producing the corned beef, the Irish people, could not afford beef or corned beef for themselves. When England conquered Ireland, oppressive laws against the native Irish Catholic population began. Their land was confiscated, and feudal-style plantations were set up. If the Irish could afford any meat at all, salted pork or bacon was consumed. But what the Irish really relied on was the potato.

The unpopularity of corned beef in Ireland comes from the Irishs relationship with beef in general. From early on, cattle in Ireland were not used for their meat but for their strength in the fields, for their milk and for the dairy products produced. In Gaelic Ireland, cows were a symbol of wealth and a sacred animal. Because of their sacred association, they were only killed for their meat if the cows were too old to work or produce milk. So, beef was not even a part of the diet for the majority of the population. Only the wealthy few were able to eat the meat during a celebration or festival. In these early times, the beef was “salted” to be preserved. The first salted beef in Ireland was actually not made with salt but with sea ash, the product of burning seaweed. The 12th-century poem “Aislinge Meic Con Glinne” shows that salted beef was eaten by the kings. This poem is one of the greatest parodies in the Irish language and pokes fun at the diet of King Cathal mac Finguine, an early Irish king, who is depicted as having a demon of gluttony stuck in his throat.

A cheap meal of pork and potatoes or Irish stew and soda bread would have been served to Irish people in the past to celebrate the feast day.

Sorry, but that’s a bit of blarney, as well. Apart from the druids, Patrick didn’t really have anything to drive out of Ireland because there were no snakes there.

The first commemoration of Patrick’s life took place on March 17, the day that is thought to have been his death, as an annual religious holiday. Honoring Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century, were feast days.

He was never formally canonized, but because of his followers’ belief that he was a “saint in heaven,” the Roman Catholic Church granted him a feast day and the title of “saint.” ”.

About that tradition, well, we need to talk. To be honest, McDonald’s Shamrock Shake and corned beef and cabbage are about as Irish as it gets.

In actuality, corned beef is a uniquely American custom with a global origin tale. It is a salt-cured brisket product named for the “corns” of salt it is packed and preserved in. Although the exact origin of corned beef is unknown, Ireland has long been associated with the meat product; a 12th-century Gaelic poem contains one of the earliest known references to it, and the nation was the world’s leading producer of the salt-cured beef for a considerable amount of time.

The practice of eating meat on St. Because of the ongoing Lenten season, when it is customary to abstain from animal consumption, Patrick’s Day was observed. But on this day, Irish custom dictated that one should disregard the fasting laws and eat meat, sweets, and other treats that were abstained from during this period. A typical St. Rather than the salt-cured product consumed in America, the Irish St. Patrick’s Day menu will feature stew made with cabbage and Irish bacon, a lean cut of pork reminiscent of Canadian bacon. In fact, aside from a few popular tourist destinations, corned beef and cabbage is rarely found on any menu in Ireland.

During the 17th to the 19th centuries, corned beef was widely consumed by military forces and naval fleets in both North America and Britain. It was a convenient source of protein, and a significant amount of it was exported from the Emerald Isle. At the time, Belfast, Dublin, and Cork, three coastal cities in Ireland, relied heavily on trade with the beef packing industry. But because of the increase in beef exports, cow meat became an expensive luxury for typical Irish families, who switched to serving pork at their tables in its place.

Try this recipe for homemade corned beef and cabbage. To round off your non-traditional Irish meal, serve Guinness Brownies with Irish Whiskey Frosting.

Beyond a few adult-only drinks, corned beef and cabbage has long been considered the quintessential taste of Saint Patrick’s Day for many Americans. This pairing receives national attention once a year during the shamrock-filled celebrations. However, where did this custom start, and is corned beef really as Irish as we’ve been led to think?