RE-GREENING THE CHICAGO RIVER: “OH, MA! NOT CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE AGAIN!”

BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

“Yes, children. It’s that time of year again. HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY!”

Same time. Same place. Same food. Same blessing. Same parade. Same beer. Same blessing. Same river. Same color. Same whisky. Boiled pah-day-dahs. Soda bread. (Maybe) scones. (Very salty) corned [pickled] beef (brisket) boiled, of course, or crock- potted. Boiled cabbage (NOT sauerkraut, of course). Carrots boiled. Guinness (or, perhaps, O’Doul’s or Kaliber?). And so it goes.

corned-beef-dinner-18

THE PERFECT CORNED BEEF DINNER

Oh, how we Irish do so love our rituals!

“ERIN GO BRAGH!

* * *
[A return to yesteryear, 17 March 2015, for a delightful repast]:

“ONE CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE, COMIN’ UP!”

BY: JAMES F. O’NEIL

Corned Beef? “In the United States and Canada, consumption of corned beef is often associated with Saint Patrick’s Day. Corned beef is not considered an Irish national dish; the connection with Saint Patrick’s Day specifically originates as part of Irish-American culture, and is often part of their celebrations in North America.

“Corned beef was used as a substitute for bacon by Irish-American immigrants in the late 19th century. Corned beef and cabbage is the Irish-American variant of the Irish dish of bacon and cabbage. A similar dish is the New England boiled dinner, consisting of corned beef, cabbage, and root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and potatoes, which is popular in New England and parts of Atlantic Canada.” [Wikipedia]

Since I could ever remember, we had corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish Catholic Feast Day of St. Patrick was almost a Holy Day of Obligation: Attend church under pain of mortal sin. Well, it wasn’t really such a day; but it was a day off from school, it meant a Chicago parade, and it meant the Italians in my neighborhood had to wait two more days to get even with us by brandishing St. Joseph’s Day–and by having local processions and festivities.

[Saint Joseph’s Day, March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph is in Western Christianity the principal feast day of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on 1 May was created in order to coincide with the celebration of International Labor Day (May Day) in many countries.]

He was the stepfather to Jesus; St. Patrick only drove out snakes from Ireland….
However, more people in America ate turkey at Thanksgiving time than they ate ham. And more people in America ate corned beef at St. Patrick’s Day-time than they ate Italian sausage and peppers (though I cannot “prove” this allegation by me)!

Well, corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots had been the steady diet of my O’Neil family since I became part of the O’Neil/O’Neill Clan. So my wife and I have continued to carry on our clannish traditions with our own family on that Special Day of 17 March.

170px-Irish_clover

SHAMROCK or IRISH CLOVER

Thus ends the history lesson relating Saint Patrick and Saint Joseph, and corned beef and cabbage. Now about those Reuben sandwiches, available year round at your favorite deli….  sandwich-corned-beef by kaufmans deli skokie IL

CORNED BEEF on RYE

KAUFMAN’S DELI

SKOKIE, ILLINOIS

© James F. O’Neil 2015, 2016

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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11 comments
  1. Learned more about corned beef than I ever knew. Had no idea it was Irish-American. Still one of my favs. I get a hankering and have to find a Deli. Nothing but a big sandwich will do. A Deli stingy with their corned beef on a sandwich is a sin in my book. Great read James!

  2. Did I read right and you are from Ireland? They normally have corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day there? St. Patrick’s Day is a special day for me. It is my birthday.

    • Happy Birthday! No, I was born in Chicago. IF you want to read an Irish blogger whi is GREAT (an American who has kids and husband on an island) look at Aranisgirl.

  3. I just spent a car ride talking to my kids about how the American culture tends to take over every party until it’s hard to remember who is actually hosting it. My mum used to make us green mashed potatoes and I read an article about how some Irish people find this disrespectful due to the fact that during the great potato famine over 1 million people died of starvation and were found with green stained mouths after trying to eat the only thing they could find to stay alive; grass! Certainly puts a different spin on things. Still, I love a good party so I hopefully no one will begrudge me our tacky stereotypical traditions of eating Lucky Charms and (root)Beer-Floats

    • Wonderful. Thanks for reading the story. I hope you will continue. I hope you had a good day.

  4. Aurora said:

    Boy is your post making me real hungry! What an informative post. I always wanted to know what was behind the history of that but kept forgetting to look it up because of other activities! Hmm. Corned Beef sounds good right now.

    http://TheModernCatholic.com

    • How about some Chicago hot dogs?

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