Why do we eat corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick’s?


‘Irish Americans’ eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day- as a memory of their forebears who left Ireland all those years ago. However, it’s a false memory.

When the Irish emigrated to the States, particularly in the 19th century, more often than not the Irish and the Jewish communities congregated together in the poorer boroughs of New York (and other cities). The respective communities tended to work in particular disciplines – the Irish were unskilled laborers, whereas their Jewish neighbors were skilled butchers and had experience in other disciplines. So when the ‘new’ immigrants went looking for foods to remind them of home for St. Patrick’s Day, particular foods were commonly available in the local butchers – who tended to be kosher and Jewish- run – and other foods not.

Traditionally – on special occasions – bacon and cabbage might have been eaten by Irish; however, now, in the absence of bacon or other pork products, the closest affordable approximation that many of these immigrants could find was corned beef (which – while available in Ireland – was seldom eaten by anyone). So the myth of corned beef and cabbage is an ‘Irish’ dish was born – and many people insist on keeping the myth alive to this day….

Author: Shane McCarrick
Source: Quora


Leave a Comment