A Surprising History Behind a St. Patrick’s Day Staple

With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, we thought we would take a look at a staple dish for the day and show how it actually has its roots in Jewish history just as much as Irish. Let’s take a look into the history behind Corned Beef and Cabbage.

It really all started in the early 20th century in New York City. More specifically, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and certain areas of the Bronx and Brooklyn. It was here that you would find many immigrants of Italian, Irish, and Jewish heritage. Those hard working newcomers started forming their own businesses, including the now famous New York staple, the Jewish Deli. Now, while everyone was in a new country, it didn’t mean they abandoned their old ways. In fact, Italian immigrants is why the pizza is also synonymous with New York City. In Ireland, a traditional dish was bacon and cabbage. Beef was not as common for Ireland, at least not as much as pork. However, when the melting pot of New York came together, and the Irish saw their Jewish brethren enjoying this new cured corned beef, a brand new comfort food and tradition was born!

One of the reasons why it took off like it did was financial status. Times were rough for many people back then, but possibly even more so for the Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants. With money being tight, food needed to be affordable. Enter Jewish Delis and Lunch Carts, and you had a quick, affordable, and delicious way for everyone to get a meal. It was here that many Irish folk noticed the similarities between corned beef and old fashioned Irish bacon. Couple that with the fact corned beef and cabbage can be cooked in one pot, and you have a wonderful dish that anyone from any economic status can enjoy.

This kind of tradition highlights one of the wonderful things about America. We truly are a melting pot of different cultures, coming together as one to try and make the best out of ourselves. One of the places that you can really see this mixture of culture is in our foods. Who would’ve thought that corned beef and cabbage had its roots in any other culture than Irish? Hopefully moving into the future, we can all still come together, make wonderful food, start new fun traditions, and continue to help each other become the best that we can be.

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