Sunday, 10 March 2013

Us and Them and Food

I love looking at food blogs, mainly because I love eating! I can spend hours trawling through them before I end up with just about enough time to knock up beans on toast for tea! A lot of the blogs I read are from the US and at the moment they seem to be obsessed with St Patrick's Day fare. What has really struck me though is other country's ideas about what constitutes traditional fare in other countries.
I cannot count how many times I have seen that corned beef and cabbage is traditional for the Irish to serve up on 17th March. Really, I thought, corned beef doesn't sound very Irish to me, so I did a bit of research. It turns out that corned beef and cabbage has actually become the US traditional dish for St Patrick's Day because the original Irish immigrants could not afford (or get) the bacon or pork that they would have served up otherwise. It has become so established that the US tourists to Ireland were disappointed when they could not get it. Apparently these days corned beef and cabbage is now served up to appease the tourists, thereby perpetuating the myth!!
I suppose it is a bit the same with the English muffins that here in England we apparently eat for breakfast! Does anyone actually know where I can even buy them? I wonder what we consider traditional fare for the States that we are way off the mark with? Do they really eat Key Lime Pie or New York Vanilla Cheesecake, what about BBQ'd ribs and spices wedges, and I would be seriously disappointed if there was not a burger to be found! If I come to Canada please reassure me that I really am going to get Maple Syrup in copious quantities and over everything! I know that one of Britain's most popular foods, chicken tikka masala, is not even served up in India but what about channa masala?
Not that any of it really matters, it would be a very boring world if we all ate the same, part of the fun is discovering new dishes whether they are authentic or not.
Finally, when I was looking for a picture to illustrate this post I realised that my idea of corned beef and the US version of corned beef appear to be very different. Corned beef to me is the mush that comes out of a tin. Even though I am now a confirmed veggie, I have always disliked corned beef, yet Pete loves it, cold in sandwiches and hot in fritters or hash (another American traditional dish?). The American version looks more like boiled beef, can anyone enlighten me please?


  1. Yep, love that corned beef. Have one in the freezer ready to go. Guess it is like boiled beef. Cook mine in the crockpot all day. I like the round better than the brisket, less fat and firmer meet. There nothing like leftover corned beef for a Ruben sandwich with lots of kraut, swiss cheese and mustard. You can come visit me in Canada and get maple syrup, even though we don't make any here on the west coast, as far as I know. But there's plenty in the airport gift shops. - Margy

  2. Thanks for putting me right Margy, I probably would have liked that sort of corned beef. Do you get the tinned stuff in your shops? I am glad that I will be able to get maple syrup, but judging by your delicious recipes, I won't be going hungry if I get to visit you :) xxx

  3. Ah those poor 'B' American's what they don't know they invent!

    Bacon (Ham) , Cabbage and Floury Spuds all topped off with white sauce and large lump of butter.

    St.Patrick patron saint of Ireland was actually a Welshman who lived on the banks of the river Severn.

  4. Mel - if it's okay with you can I just stick to the cabbage and floury spuds bit! And then we have St George who was a Roman soldier from Turkey who never stepped foot in England! But hey St Patrick had his snakes and St George his dragon, so they make for a good yarn! X

  5. I have to say that I was rather fond of the English styled corned beef with a smidge of mustard especially in sandwiches and accompanied with whole tomatoes.

  6. Mel - surely it has to be Branston pickle or is that the 'traditional Irish Guinness flavoured English mustard' that I have just been reading about, lol!!!!!!

  7. O yes I forgot the beloved Branston Pickle, but no, my preference in mustards is English with corned beef or Dijon with other meats.
    Sorry have never heard of Guinness flavoured English mustard, must be another invention of that other crowd .... oh don't get me going - when will they ever learn !

  8. You've really surprised me with the US style corned beef, Fran. I also thought it was the stuff you get in a tin that has that key on it that you have to wind off (I always wanted to the the one to do that when I was a kid). I used to like British corned beef too, but am also largely veggie these days and wouldn't be able to get a decent tin of it here anyway. What misconceptions we all have, hey? Do you have any ideas about what Dutch traditional food is? Reading Mels' descriptions, it's rather like Irish food! They like their 'spek' (bacon) too, but they have this dish called stamppot, which is potato mashed with any vegetables you can think of, onions or sour cabbage sauerkraut. There are so many varieties of it and they like to eat it with smoked sausage rookworst.

  9. Mick and Eleanor love corned beef, not the type in your photo though. We don't buy it in a tin, but buy it from the cooked meat section in the supermarket. Eleanor's favourite at the moment is corned beef and cheese toasted sandwich.

  10. Val - I will bring you some when I come to visit, just so you can pull the ring off! Stamppot I like the sound of. When I was last in Holland they bought me a veggie meal that I started to eat and then found a piece of meat. They apologised profusely saying they must have missed that bit when they picked out the rest of the meat out of the dish!!!!
    But I did find some other great meals. Enjoy Mother's Day (if it is in Holland today, if not use your English origins to get spoiled!) xxx
    Jo - Pete actually prefers the sliced corned beef from the deli counter. Alfie the dog doesn't care where it comes from, he just loves it! Enjoy Mother's Day xxx

  11. Jo - I knew you had commented but couldn't find your comment on the blog. Have just found you in the spam box! Apologies if I have ignored you before, will keep an eye on that in future xx

  12. Always have three tins of corned beef in the fridge. Converted the German born husband to it.

    My Canadian born sons have no choice but to eat what this Scottish girl put on the table.

    The corned beef in the picture, locally is always a brisket. I was told it was called corned beef due to the brine used to preserve it.

    Mustard in this house is Coleman's with the odd bottle of "hot dog" yellow in the fridge. Even the German agrees that Coleman's is the superior mustard to the senf he grew up with.

    Oh, and the great maple syrup heist was solved. It's actually very expensive and most people I know use a "pancake syrup flavoured with maple" for their breakfasts. Aunt Jemima springs to mind. Golden syrup is served at our house.

  13. 50+ (easier to write!!!). You can do a lot with corned beef, someone cooked hubby a corned beef curry a while back! I love German mustard as it is more mellow. I put it on Pretend hot dogs (vegan) with onions etc lovely! I was born in Germany so perhaps that why I used to have a taste for bratwurst, but can't find a Vegan alternative :(
    I also love golden syrup along with maple syrup. I will try to find the pancake syrup as a cheaper option. Thank you for the tip. Happy Mothers' Day xxx

  14. Image my surprise when we came to Canada to find out their idea of corned beef and mine was two toally different things!!

    The canned corned beef I buy at the deli section in the supermarket is always an experience to get, as unless they put pieces of paper between the slices when they have sliced it; it all sticks together in a big chunk. So I always have to remind the people behind the counter to do it.

    It's very popular the canned corned beef with the Jamaicans over here as well.


  15. Gill - I expect there were other things as well as corned beef that were completely different? Interesting that the Jamaicans have a taste for corned beef. Will google to find some recipes for Pete x

  16. Hi Fran, this was a very interesting read. So, our corned beef and cabbage isn't really the mainstay of Ireland. Surprise, surprise. It is want we have always been told. As for America, you were right on the money, but probably your main foods across the nation would be BBQ, hot dogs, hamburgers and apple pie. Then because we are such a big country each regions has it's own specialties, like gumbo in New Orleans and sour dough bread in San Fransisco.
    We bought the little sailboat and we are in heaven. It is certainly a fixer-upper, but it will be fun and we can not wait to have a little time to get started. Steve will be posting the complete re-do . . . step my step. Maybe you can get Pete on his blog and they can compare notes.
    Here's wishing you a happy and fun filled day.
    Your blogging sister, Connie :)

  17. I am a brit who has lived in the u.s. for 40 years.
    corned beef and cabbage on St. Patricks Day is all part of the sentimentalized view that americans sometimes have of the rest of the world.
    We have to laugh at the "english" muffins, never had them in England.

  18. Hi Connie, how exciting about the sailboat, Pete is waiting to see it. Unfortunately he is a bit of a technophobe but I will show him Steve's posts and type his comments!
    Hi Lizzie - welcome aboard. I think we have a certain amount of sentimentality about the US over here. Lovely houses with white picket fences. Mum in her apron giving the kids homemade cookies and milk! A lot nicer picture than those from the CSI programmes! One day I am going to cook some English muffins from a US recipe just to see what they are :) xxx