Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday #11: The Away Game

Sunday number 11 was hosted at Mark's mother's house. She was making corned beef and cabbage because that's how we feign tradition in these here parts.

A facebook friend posted some article that ended up getting a reply from an "IRISH Irish" friend that basically said "corned beef, wtf?" This prompted me to take a gander at what all the hubub was for having corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty's Day.

According to Wikipedia - and who knows more than Wiki!? Not you, so don't even question it! - corned beef was something the English grew in Ireland but hogged up for themselves while the Irish subsisted on potatoes. Corned beef didn't become so popular with the Irish until they came to the America's and said "Wow! Corned beef be cheap here!" and proceeded to favor it over pork because it was perceived as being so darned fancy.  

So yes, corned beef is really more of an Irish American thing, and from there it's really just an American thing because way too many Americans fancy themselves as Irish than actually are (though not quite as many who seem to think their great great grandmother was some sort of Indian Princess. )

So we borrowed us some faked-out culture and ate us some faked-out traditional food. That's about as American as you can get!

Oh - and I brought those glazed beets and carrots. I was going to at least take some pictures of that process but the camera was all "batteries, waah" so that didn't happen.

Anyway, here're the final result of Mark's mother's meal preparation plus the beets.

There was also Macaroni and Cheese. I bet that's because we're part Italian.

Eh, that's enough nagging on my culture for borrowing culture. Heh.

Oh wait, no it's not!

See, I like eating different foods from different places, or trying my hand at preparing things in different ways that vary from how I was brought up. It just bugs me when people try to apply some sort of sacred traditional reason for doing whatever they do at a particular time and place. There's nothing wrong with doing something because you want to give it a try or because you really happen to like the flavor you get when mixing cinnamon in your red meat (weirdos) but it's not because your great-great second-cousin's aunt from her grandmother's first marriage was Moroccan.  

So when I pop off about stuff like us feigning tradition, that's all I'm talking about. That's not what Cheryl (Mark's mom) was actually doing. She was serving it because it's cheap this time of year and tasty, that's all. And she doesn't claim it's for any other reason either.

The Review:

I happen to like corned beef, but even more than that I like the veggies you float in the beefy salt water. We didn't have much of this because the potatoes were boiled separately and the cabbage and carrots were semi-steamed in an electric skillet with a little bit of pot dripplings thrown in.

I'm not sure what Cheryl did beyond cooking the beef forever, but it turned out really well. The 2-3 times I've made it myself it's always turned out poorly. Either it's too tough, no matter how thin I slice it (I think because I pulled it too soon?) or I screw it up in other profoundly awful ways.

One time - we lived in the duplex next to a crazy lady so that'd make it 6-7 years ago - I made my second ever Corned beef and Cabbage. I was going to do so much better than that time before when it had turned out sort of tough.

Once I decided the beef was cooked enough I put in the potatoes and carrots and a half an hour or so later I put in the cabbage. Anyone who's worked with cabbage knows it doesn't take that long to cook. I was going to give it ten minutes.

I never time anything because I can count to ten, dammit. This is why I end up burning shit to death or making charred cookie pucks.

Naturally, I fell asleep on the couch after I put the cabbage in. When I woke up it smelled like we were under a chemical attack. I'm gagging a little now just thinking about it. Man.

So, given my prior experience with this dish, and even without being boiled in salty goodness, Cheryl's dinner was nothing but win.  

My beets and carrots were okay, but not as good as I'd hoped. I choose to believe it was because I used end-of-winter root veggies that had been in storage for months, and not because I'm not awesome. They were good enough that Cheryl kept a couple cups worth for her own lunches, so there's that at least.

No thumbs up, no vegetable contemplating scowl - these are kids on good behavior. Max ate mostly mac&cheese and had about a squared centimeter of corned beef. He wanted to spit it out, said it was too salty. I don't understand how a kid with such a strong love for processed food couldn't take it. He did not eat any vegetables. Even grandma knows not to even try.

Simon had some of everything and even choked down some beets.

It was a pretty good dinner and, best of all, neither me or Mark had dishes to do. Woohoo!

On the way home we got ice cream. Probably because of a little weight-centric post-dinner discussion we had. We'll show you, parental figure!

It wasn't that great. 

Next week (which happens to be tonight) we're doing Fried Chicken. Hooray for fried!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have science to do. 


  1. Reading your blog gives me a malicious pride in the fact that I made Max eat vegetables. Mwahahaha!!

  2. We still tell him "remember that time you ate lettuce!"

    Though, I don't know that the lettuce really made up for the twinkie that came later :p

  3. Awesome as ever. :)

    I particularly like what you had to say about tradition - I really, really agree about the notion that it's important to do what's best, not what people back in the old country, (or worse, the Old Country Buffet), did.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Can't I just edit? No, apparently not.

    Now I can't remember what I wanted to say.

    Hmm - thanks for reading! That's it :D