Today is St. Patricks Day, a bank holiday in Ireland (aka a day off). Seeing that St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and that today is a day to celebrate him, one would think that it would be a big deal. Well, it’s not. It’s a day off, which is more than in the US, but the parades are few and far between and then rather pathetic. Most of the Irish I have spoken to about it say they prefer to stay indoors away from the drunks who take over the streets. (I am not sure who these drunks are since most of the people I have spoken to say they like to keep things low key and stay at home.) My parents-in-law and their friends traditionally go on a big hill walk and then eat out somewhere in celebration. So, St. Paddy’s day seems to be bigger in the US than in Ireland. I can handle that. I have never been a big fan (except maybe the time in college where a friend ate Lucky Charms cereal with Baileys liqueur, instead of milk…he said it was foul, but it was hilarious to watch him choke it down). Other than that, I might have worn green to avoid getting pinched by the over enthusiastic, button wearing “Irish”, but otherwise, not much.
While living at home in Springfield, I was lucky to have a father who loved corned beef and cabbage and a mother who loved it and didn’t mind making it. That’s a nice traditional Irish St. Patrick’s day meal right? Hoho, I think NOT my friend! Again, I have asked a number of Irish (I do happen to be surrounded by them on a daily basis) and they either haven’t ever eaten it, don’t like it or have only heard of their grandparents eating it. My mind was blown and my concept of traditional Irish was crushed. It’s not like my other preconceptions have been proven wrong (there are leprechauns everywhere and it’s just a matter of time before I get my pot of gold).
What a few people have mentioned is that their grandparents would have liked it and eaten it more often. My theory is that that grandparent generation, or great grandparent in some cases, was the group that would have immigrated to the US. They would have taken their love of corned beef and cabbage with them and the “native” Americans would have seen it as traditional Irish. Kind of like how the Japanese think that Americans eat KFC chickens for Christmas, because they saw a few ex-pats doing that instead of a turkey. They even dress Colonel Sanders as Santa Clause. (True story, I saw it with my own eyes!).
That is my theory as to how the Americans got it into their heads that corned beef and cabbage was the traditional Irish meal for St. Patricks Day. Funny enough, my mother-in-law took that to heart and bought a corned beef and head of cabbage for me to cook up. So, I am being very stereotypical Irish, while being totally not typical Irish all at the same time.
The corned beef is currently bubbling away with lots of fresh ground pepper, a couple of bay leaves and a bit of salt. After a few hours, I will throw in the cored cabbage, carrots, parsnip (only one cause it’s the lone survivor of a previous meal), and potatoes. Maybe an onion will find its way into the pot as well? Who knows, I will follow my whims. And since their is no one here to contradict how it should taste, I think I am in the clear!
With that said, I hope everyone has a safe and fun St. Patricks Day!