Sunday, March 17, 2013


From the archives:

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 eastern 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 beef, 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 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. So today I will probably have a beer or two, maybe even a green one. I will leave the consumption of corned beef to the peasants.

6 comments:

Henry said...

I've been waiting for this diatribe :-)

Paul's Blog said...

It is some of my better prose, if I do say so myself!

Lisa said...

Not even at $3.49/lb??? :-)

Bob said...

That was always a good time to have the family dog under the table waiting for a "treat".

Ur-spo said...

I used to work with a physician from Dublin. She stated no true Irishman drank nasty green beer, or ate corned beef - roast leg of lamb was the proper dish for the feast day of St. Patrick. Some wine or guiness rather.

Paul's Blog said...

Corned beef at $3.49/lb is still way too expensive. Thanks you, Michael, for supporting my view of what is a more appropriate meal to celebrate the life of St. Patrick.