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Did You Know That Corned Beef and Cabbage is Not an Irish Meal?

It is funny how we Americans consume certain foods with certain holidays. Like turkey on Thanksgiving Day and corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day.  Both could be eaten anytime of the year, but we seem to usually devour it on the appropriate holiday instead. Of course the turkey is an All-American bird and it fits the holiday in November, but, in what may surprise many, corned beef and cabbage is not the main staple in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day.   

Scott Olson, Getty Images

In the United States, corned beef is associated with Saint Patrick’s Day but it is not considered an Irish national dish. In Quincy, being a large German town, they featured ribs and kraut as they have for year along with corn beef and cabbage Saturday at the Knights of Columbus Blessed Sacrament St. Patrick’s Day dinner.  The connection with corned beef and Saint Patrick’s Day specifically originates as part of Irish-American culture, and is often part of their celebrations in North America. In Ireland, the main meal is Irish stew and boiled potatoes.

When the British colonized the Irish, they transformed much of their countryside into a grazing land to raise cattle for a hungry consumer market in Britain. The impoverished and disenfranchised people of Ireland became dependent on the potato for survival. When the potato famine hit Ireland many migrated to the United States for a better life that included corned beef and cabbage.

And now you know the rest of the Americanized corned beef and cabbage story.

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