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Tastemakers: Irish or American? Corned Beef Cabbage

Rick Coates - March 8th, 2010
Irish Or American?
Corned Beef Cabbage
While Americans of Irish descent will be whooping it up over the High Holy Days of St. Patrick’s Day, those who reside on the Emerald Isle will be more subdued in their celebration. Here in the States the day has become one of pints, pubs and plates of corned beef and cabbage. But is the latter really Irish?
Some say not. Sure, there will be plenty of corned beef and cabbage being served in Ireland this St. Patrick’s Day -- but not to appease those who live there --but rather to please the tourists.
Okay, so exactly where did this tradition of corned beef and cabbage come from? From an historical perspective indirectly Ireland, where in the 1600s beef was a scarcity and corned beef was considered a delicacy and served on Easter. It is believed that the tradition of corned beef and cabbage being served on St. Patrick’s Day evolved from Irish immigrants to America who in the 1800s were at the bottom of the ethnic cultural totem pole (“Irish Need Not Apply”) and were among the poorest Americans, so a meal of corned beef and cabbage was considered a real treat. Here is a poem by Irish poet Frances Shilliday from the website St. Patrick’s Day Myth’s:

Good Grief -- Not Beef!

I just want to put something straight
About what should be on your plate,
If it’s corned beef you’re makin’
You’re sadly mistaken,
That isn’t what Irishmen ate.

If you ever go over the pond
You’ll find it’s of bacon they’re fond,
All crispy and fried,
With some cabbage beside,
And a big scoop of praties beyond.

Your average Pat was a peasant
Who could not afford beef or pheasant.

On the end of his fork
Was a bit of salt pork,
As a change from potatoes ‘twas pleasant.

This custom the Yanks have invented,
Is an error they’ve never repented,
But bacon’s the stuff
That all Irishmen scoff,
With fried cabbage it is supplemented.

So please get it right this St. Paddy’s.
Don’t feed this old beef to your daddies.
It may be much flasher,
But a simple old rasher,
Is what you should eat with your tatties.

Okay Frances, maybe we took some liberties in carrying on the tradition of honoring St. Patrick, but you have never had a brisket of O’Brien’s Corned Beef made by Louie’s Meats in Traverse City with a pint of Guinness, a tasty improvement to the celebration if I don’t say so myself. Cheers and Happy St. Patrick’s Day. --Rick Coates

Boru Vodka
“It’s better to spend money like there’s no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there’s no money.” It is called a “Boru-ism,” Irish words of wisdom offered by the vodka distiller Boru, located in Dublin. Now the Irish have long been known for their whiskey, names such as Jameson and Bushmill’s are staples in the pantries and pubs of Ireland. Of course there is Guinness too, one of the top selling beers in the world.
There might be some truth in that old saying “There Must Be Something In The Water.” Boru is handcrafted with 100% Irish wheat and pure Irish spring water. It is distilled five times and filtered through 10 feet of charcoal made from Atlantic Irish Oak. Scholars of Irish history will recognize the name Brian Boru as is first High King of Ireland. Each bottle features a raised motif displaying 1014, the year Boru won the Battle of Clontarf, defeating the Vikings “We named our super premium vodkas as a tribute to Brian Boru,” said distillery spokesperson Roseann Sessa. She added patriotically, “His bold attitude and uncompromising spirit are attributes that underscore our own brand profiles.”
While inspired by Irish royalty, Boru is marketed using Irish humor and by giving the vodka a personality. “The Boru-isms form feelings for the brand like it was a person,” said Mark Andrews, chairman and chief executive at Castle Brands the American distributor.”With this idea, Boru’s position is as a brand that speaks to people, a brand that has a point of view.”
Launched in the U.S. six years ago Boru has been building a fan base not just with proud Irish Americans but vodka drinkers in general. Boru is very smooth and goes down without that burn; it is great chilled, on the rocks or with your favorite mixer and at $18 a bottle it has won over the palates of critics as well. Wine Enthusiast rates it a 92 and Forbes rates it one of the Top 10 Vodkas in the world. Pair with a chilled glass, corned beef and cabbage and a pint of Guinness for good measure. Available throughout Northern Michigan at fine establishments. --Rick Coates

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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