Friday, March 14, 2008

One "holiday" I dread...

Those of you who know my heritage know that I am half Irish and half German. My mother's family came over from County Mayo in the 1800s and settled in easter Pennsylvania. The Irish did not stray far away from other Irish when it came to marriage, so I come from a long line of Hastings and Clancys. My father, however, is a first generation German. His mother and father emigrated to the United States in 1921. My parents met when they were both stationed at Parks Air Force Base in California. They married and moved back to Michigan where I was born and raised. Well, my mother is quite proud of her Irish heritage and when I was growing up, St. Patrick's Day was always a cause for celebration. We would go to the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in downtown Detroit, we would wear green clothing and sometimes put on silly hats and pretend to be leprechauns. One part of the celebration was the evening meal, which invariably was Corned Beef and Cabbage. For the life of me, I think that the reason why so many Irish left the Emerald Isle is because like me, they could not stand this vile cut of seasoned meat.

Back to my story. Each St. Patrick's Day my family would look forward to eating what was essentially boiled shoe leather. My mother would fill a cauldron with water, throw in a hunk of corned beer, some potatoes, cabbage, maybe some salt and
pepper, perhaps some celery for flavor. How one could ever flavor shoe leather is beyond me, but she would try nevertheless. The aroma of this dank cut of meat would fill the house, so I would try to spend as much time as possible outdoors whenever this "dish" was being prepared. After my father came home from work, the table would be set and the the carcass of beef would be removed from the pot, along with the soggy vegetables and potatoes. My siblings would rejoice at the thought of the meat, while I could barely keep myself from retching at the stench of it.

So, we would then take our places at the table, grace would be said and then my parents and siblings would relish in the consumption of this thoroughly proletarian dish. I was forced to eat this wretched excuse for a meal, so I would slather as much mustard as possible between two pieces of bread, then put a slice of this offensive meat there as well. I would then try to gulp this down, chewing as little as possible so that I would not have to taste it, much.

So, while I applaud the celebration of the birth of the patron saint of Ireland, to this day I cannot
stomach the smell, taste or appearance of corned beef. I will probably have a beer or two, maybe even a green one. I will leave the consumption of corned beef to the peasants.


8 comments:

Lisa and Gary... said...

Every holiday for which my paternal grandmother hosted the evening meal, she served brussel sprouts so deeply overcooked the house stank of what could only be described as smelly gym socks. She cooked and cooked and cooked those poor, tiny sprouts until they resembled nothing remotely close to a brussel sprout. For many years you couldn't persuade me to touch a brussel sprout, cooked or uncooked, with the proverbial ten-foot pole.

Then one day, I screwed up every ounce of courage I had and cooked them myself. They were really good.

So, I challenge you, Commander, to face your demons. Brine yourself a brisket, pour yourself (and your lovely bride) a Guinness, and come back to the dark side.

We peasants are so much more fun than the patricians, anyway.

Happy St. Paddy's Day.

L.

Paul's Blog said...

I also have issues with brussel sprouts. For some reason, that vegetable found its way into way too many Navy recipe cards. I am not alone in my dislike of brussel sprouts, as my Canadian Navy officer friend Bob Self suffered through brussel sprouts being served at virtually every evening meal when he served aboard Her Majesty's Canadian Ships during his career. Bob cannot be in the same room as a brussel sprout anymore.

Deirdre said...

Wow. 20+ years of marriage and I don't know this? I guess, come to think of it, we never have had corned beef....and I guess that I am just not that observant...but I love corned beef. Huh. Well you learn something new every day.

And for the record, I am still bitter about the pie.

John said...

" Well let me tell you my kraut mick friend..."

We did the boiled cabbage a lot, but I don't recall Ma ever whipping up corned beef.

I love corned beef hash....with rice and eggs over easy...hawaiian style....yum...

I bet Handsome Boy would like corned beef...he looks like he may have a wee bit o' the Irish inhim...

John said...

Hey...at least you're not Scottish...haggis.....bleech...

Paul's Blog said...

I suppose with enough single malt, haggis, like corned beef, can be tolerated.

Eric said...

Corned beef is evil. I share my brother's hatred for it and have the same ugly memories.

I believe corned beef has its origins in New York City....and not Ireland. It is my understanding that the Irish learned to pickle cheap cuts of beef to make them more tender. They learned this from their Jewish neighbors in NYC. A recent Food Network show suggested this...as does this website:

http://www.savethedeli.com/2008/03/12/the-luck-of-the-irish-is-jewish/

Paul's Blog said...

See, I am not alone in my belief that corned beef is anywhere close to edible!