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An interesting thing about the traditional American St. Patrick’s Day meal of corned beef and cabbage is that corned beef is not a traditional Irish food at all.  When they could get it the Irish ate bacon with their cabbage, beef being reserved for the Anglo-Irish landlords and too dear for even a once a year splurge, even if it had been available.  In fact, historically, corned beef was associated with the Atlantic slave trade and poverty; undesirable cuts of beef were corned and traded to France or other countries, while the “better” portions were sent to the British colonies.  In any case, corned beef was not on the menu for the common Irishman.

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It must have been quite a shock when the Irish landed in the U.S. and found that corned beef was both readily available to all and cheap!  No wonder corned beef became the Irish-American celebratory centerpiece for the feast day…

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