Corned Beef and Cabbage

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

It’s a big deal for me.

It’s always been that way. A combined celebration, one of ancestry and heritage directly followed by my birthday. A one-two punch. I was almost named Patrick. I like Sean better. I used to go on a proper tear, I might have a touch but it’s a conscious effort not to go completely mad.

I’ll go to work like the responsible father of three that I am and I’ll hang out at home with my family.

We will wear green, and listen to Thin Lizzy (an under appreciated band who wrote two of the greatest songs about Ireland: Emerald and Roisin Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend. Indeed, Philip. Mastodon has also done a killer cover of the former), Sinead and The Chieftains, Luke and The Dubliners, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and The Pogues. I will have a pint or two of the black stuff and a splash of whiskey. I’m downplaying it. My first choice is Tullamore Dew, but I thoroughly enjoy Powers, Bushmills, Jamo, Killbeggan. This is not something that occurs once a year.

Corned beef and cabbage on the other hand usually only happens once a year, unless we get a hankering for it. It is not a traditional Irish dish, it is an American custom that began in the late 19th century by Irish immigrants. It was a cheaper substitute for bacon. I’m not mad at it. It may draw sneers from native Irish, as if it’s a slight, a disparagement like some kind of culinary heresy, but as an Irish-American, I relish the tradition and look forward to devouring a few plates of it.

Corned beef like pastrami is made from beef only different cuts of meat. Pastrami is brined and smoked while corned beef is cured and boiled. Both make me salivate. At Katz’s delicatessen on Houston street, I’ll flip a coin and gladly fork over the $25 dollars, another yearly indulgence.

This year we’re making it in a slow cooker. That’s a first for us. My wife is on some chef shit. She is an excellent cook. I’m sure it was be delicious with two things that are undeniably Irish: cabbage and potatoes. Prepare a potato any fucking way you want and I’ll eat it. We got some soda bread and Kerry butter which my daughters will make disappear in one sitting.

We got decorations in the window. A green table cloth, some pins and a leprechaun trap. Cross your fingers. Maybe this is the year we catch him slipping. We will read books about the holiday, The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day, and The Berenstain Bears’ St. Patrick’s Day. It was always Berenstein Bears, I don’t care what anyone says, but I also feel like I might have a skipped across a few parallel dimensions. Shit definitely feels like an alternate reality, doesn’t it?

In my normal universe I’d be off for the holiday and I’d party straight through into my birthday. It might not be wild or raucous like the olden days, or like last year but it will be a nice. I’m turning 42 Saturday, which sounds much older than I feel but I can only jump dimensions not stop time, but that might be a great ability to have.

I’ll toast with my kids, they will cheers my pint or my shot with chocolate milk and I’ll remind them of our family history and recount the hardships our ancestors faced during the famine and the endless wars, and what it took in order to cross the Atlantic to come to New York, which wasn’t necessarily an easy place to live either. I wish I knew more of the personal details. I will drink to my descendents, one woman in particular, my Nana’s great-grandmother, Mary Ryan, who left Thurles by herself in an attempt to forge a better life, and in the very least to survive. Up Tipp!

Props to my people for the fortitude and the strength to persevere despite the overwhelming adversity. It is inspiring, truly. Now go listen to the Foggy Dew and have a proper drink.

And who knows? Maybe after the kids are tucked in and fast asleep I’ll hit the pub. Parkside Pub, that is. Which after a few drinks I will most certainly Irish. Never say goodbye.


3 responses to “Corned Beef and Cabbage”

  1. Corned beef and cabbage isn’t Irish but Irish-American? I didn’t know that, but I do think it’s yummy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely love how you celebrate and teach your children about their heritage. I bet the corned beef and cabbage is absolutely delicious. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Sean!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like you are doing the Old Sod proud. Happy St. Patty’s Day, indeed. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

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