Ah… the day before St Paddy’s Day… That Irish-American holiday serving a meat the Irish produced but were too poor to afford to eat back in Ireland. It took a famine and emigration – along with a proximity to Jewish immigrants and their corned brisket – to create that Irish-American dish known as Corned Beef and Cabbage.
As a kid growing up, we always had Corned Beef and Cabbage on St Paddy’s Day. My father would always bring home either a huge brisket or a corned eye of the round. He’d pick them up right at the source. I think he used to get them at Roberts – but it was wherever they were getting them for the firehouse.
There’s nothing quite like a simmering hunk of beef with the cabbage, potatoes, and carrots… the anticipation of thick slabs of fork-tender meat slathered with hot mustard. A childhood memory, indeed. Another childhood memory is singing Irish songs in a quartet at Fairlane Market the years I wasn’t tap-dancing up Market Street in the St Patrick’s Day Parade. Ah, yes. A singer and a dancer. A regular James Cagney, I was.
So fast-forward a few years and here I am living with the Italian contingent – who don’t like cabbage! Sad, but true. My Corned Beef AND Cabbage days are numbered, I fear. I’m going to have to arrange a trip home one of these March 17ths and see what the siblings can do for me.
In the meantime, I’ll just have to suffer through with celery substituting for the cabbage.
On another note, I made a variation of my whiskey brack.
It’s a yeast bread, not a soda bread, and traditionally, a brack is more closely associated with Halloween than St Patrick. But… I like to play footloose and fancy-free with traditions… and recipes.
The recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups of dried fruit, but I really didn’t want that much in the loaf, today, so I cut it to 1. It really came out good – and will be great toasted tomorrow morning with a slathering of Kerrygold Irish butter.
A good meal and a good day – with some fun memories of being a kid in San Francisco back in the ’50s and ’60s.