Wednesday, March 17, 2010

An Apology for St. Patrick’s Day by Way of a Half Assed History of Corned Beef

Corned beef is delicious. It combines three of the things I love most in food: meat, fat and salt. And it’s a staple of Irish America’s culinary heritage, along with cabbage, potatoes and soda bread, and I’m part Irish and love to eat food, so I say ‘Hooray for Corned Beef.’

I mean look at this stuff.  It's great.  I would eat that entire brisket right now, juices and fat running down my face, globs of meat getting stuck in my beard, and I wouldn't even bat and eye.  I would just eat and eat.

“But Nat,” you say, you anti-Irish grinchy bastard, “In Ireland they don’t actually eat corned beef. It’s an Americanized bullshit thing, like spaghetti and meatballs. Therefore, it is stupid for people to celebrate St. Patrick’s day by eating corned beef.”

“But…” I say, before you cut me off.

“Furthermore, St. Patrick’s day wasn’t really celebrated in Ireland until the Irish realized they could make a quick buck off of rich Americans looking for a place to party it up. So, really, St. Patrick’s day is nothing more than a bunch of bullshit used as an excuse to drink and make an ass out of themselves.”

“Would you shut up for a second and let me talk?!” I interject.

“Fine, what?”

“First of all, would you please watch your language? You’ve already used bullshit twice, and three is the limit per post here. Second, I never claimed corned beef, or even St. Patrick’s day, is a part of the authentic Irish experience. It’s really a holiday for Irish Americans.

“I read up a little bit about corned beef, and here’s what I think I remember: corned beef has been made in Ireland for hundreds of years. BUT, it was mostly exported because beef was a highly prized commodity so the landowners (English people, mostly) corned it and shipped it off around the world for a pretty penny. The actual Irish, though, were too poor to afford the wonderfully salty pinkish-red delicacy so they mostly ate potatoes and various other roots and maybe the occasional goat.

“BUT, when the famines started hitting Ireland because all the good land was being used for beef that was just exported, Irish people started emigrating and one of the places they landed was in America where, ironically, one of the only meets that they could really afford was corned beef sold in Jewish delis in New York.

“They left Ireland unable to afford corned beef, and arrived in New York where the only meat they could afford was corned beef.

“So, in a way, corned beef is the perfect meal for St. Patrick’s day - a day where, yes, Irish American people celebrate their Irish heritage with the weird dancing and the music that most non-Irish people hate and the Lucky Charms, but it's more than that. Corned beef is a symbol of the good fortune for the Irish here in America, a land that celebrates the immigrants who helped build this wonderful country of ours. Well, the white immigrants are normally the ones celebrated. Everyone seems to hate the Mexicans, but I don’t know why. Although people used to hate the Irish when they showed up too. Have you seen Gangs of New York?”

“No,” you reply.

“Well, it wasn’t a great movie. But it wasn’t bad either. What’s his name, the guy from ‘There Will Be Blood’ was really good in it.”

“What is that guys name?”

“I can’t remember right now.  Really famous actor.  I saw him in that shitty movie about the Italian film director,” I say. “I must be getting old. I could IMDB it but, meh. What were we talking about? Oh yeah. Racism sucks. The end.”

“So that corned beef stuff,” you continue, “was any of that true or was it all bullsh…”

“Watch it…” I warn.

“Was it all some yarn that you made up to justify getting blasted tonight and waking up tomorrow morning cuddled up next to a brisket?”

“Here, have a shot of Jamison and shut up.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Happy Erin Go Braugh, I'm cooking up another batch for dinner tonight. Wish you were here...