Monday, March 12, 2007

Why there'll be no red brisket on my plate this St. Paddy's Day

Yes, I'm a Jew. But I'm also Irish. My da's family is from Ireland, and a do strongly identify with my Irish heritage. And I'll not eat the red brisket (corned beef) on St. Paddy's Day.

First of all, corned beef of every type is nasty. Second of all, the red brisket (beef cured in pickling salt with herbs and garlic) is not an Irish recipe. It is an Eastern European, possibly Jewish food. This does not make me like it any more. Corned beef is nearly unknown in Ireland, and it's certainly not the national dish. It seems that the Irish did go through a period of eating a dish made of salted beef scraps and cabbage during The Hunger of the mid-1800's. This would have been famine food made of cheap and plentiful cabbage and low quality meat scraps. Certainly not a feast. It was a last resort meal brought about by a manufactured famine. And nothing to be nostalgic about. But somehow here in America it became a big Irish deal. This is all notwithstanding the fact that St. Paddy's Day comes during Lent, when traditionally the very Catholic Irish would not have been eating meat of any kind.

So, you may be asking, "What is the national Irish dish?" I would have to name The Pint at the top of the potential list for this honor. In Ireland, two pints make a good lunch. If you don't have the constitution to have only The Pint as your St. Paddy's day supper, try starting off with one of two much more authentic and cherished Irish dishes. One nice celebratory meal would be a boiled dinner of a bacon joint. Or you could try a nice fish pie if you're observing Lent. Then continue with your Irish pride by lifting a Pint to honor St. Paddy!
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