St. Patrick’s Day: Ireland v.s. America

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! On this festive green holiday, Americans celebrates their Irish-American culture. In Ireland, they celebrate one of their patron saints, St. Patrick, who ministered Christianity in Ireland around the fifth century. In regards to traditional foods for this holiday, the two countries have very different tastes. In the same way that apple pies aren’t American, corned beef and cabbage isn’t Irish. This Saint Paddy’s Day, let’s take a look at how corned beef and cabbage became an Irish-American staple and what the Irish actually eat.

Beef was considered a luxury in Ireland since cows were used for their strength in working rather than their meat. Pigs were thought to be a main source of meat which is why Irish bacon is a St. Patrick’s Day favorite in Ireland. When the Irish immigrated to America, they found that corned beef was the most readily available and affordable meat. At the time, Irish and Jewish communities gew close in New York. It’s believed that the corned beef and cabbage recipe we know today was derived from the Jewish corned beef. The Irish found that the corned beef had a similar texture to their Irish bacon and this became their new tradition.

So, let the corned beef and cabbage be an American tradition. What are the Irish actually eating on their festive day? A more, true-to-the-roots, St. Patrick’s Day starts with a hearty breakfast. The Irish have what’s called a full breakfast. This was originally created so that farmers could gain enough energy to get through a hard day of work. Nowadays, full breakfasts are more of a weekend treat and don’t necessarily have to be served during breakfast time. The meal consists of Irish bacon and eggs, baked beans, potatoes, vegetables like mushrooms and tomatoes, and either soda bread or toast.

The one thing in a full breakfast that might make or break the deal for a nontraditional Irishmen,  is black and/or white pudding. Black pudding, also known as blood pudding, does not refer to the chocolate dessert we usually think of. Black pudding is pork, oatmeal, spices, and pork blood mixed into a sausage casing. White pudding has the same ingredients, minus the blood.

For dinner, a classic meal is leg of lamb with some rosemary and garlic or Shepherd’s pie. Not to be confused with Cottage pie, Shepherd’s pie  is made with lamb or mutton, vegetables like onions and peas, and is topped with mashed potatoes. This dish was thought to be originally created in the late 1700s by housewives who were looking for different ways to serve leftover meat. For dessert, apple tart or apple cake is a staple. Irish apple cake is a dense, moist cake usually made with granny smith apples and a little bit of cinnamon. To top off this delightful dessert is a creamy custard that is poured over the cake.

Whether the Irish are enjoying their traditional meals or the Americans are enjoying their corned beef and cabbage, St. Patrick’s day is a day about celebrating pride in culture and where you come from. Whether your beer is green or Guinness, may the luck of the Irish will be with you.