Written by Tim Smith, Slow Food USA’s Associate Manager of New Media
Last night I made corned beef and cabbage for the first time in my life. To be honest, it was the first time anyone in my family has made the dish, to my knowledge. This will come as some surprise to those who know me as someone who fully embraces his Irish-American heritage, but carrying on the Irish culinary tradition has never been a priority in our kitchen. That’s not to say we were without our ancestral culture. It’s hard to avoid it growing up Irish-Catholic in a working- class Irish neighborhood in an incredibly Irish city, but it was never something we sought out.
There certainly were little things, though — my mother, the daughter of an Irish immigrant from County Cork, drilled into my head that each dinner must include 3 things: meat, potatoes, and milk. This caused some confusion when I was introduced to the food pyramid in school and saw no potato section. My grandfather brought these “Irish food groups” from the farm in Cork to his family in the US and left most everything else there, but I yearned for something more authentic – I wanted brown bread and jam, the Dubliners on soundtrack, and whiskey in the jar. What I got was supermarket-brand bread, the Monkees, and two parents who didn’t drink.