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I Sure Miss That Corned Beef

I sure miss that corned beef

Just before the world changed, Adele and I stopped to shop at the local Grocery Outlet. And guess what? Corned beef was being featured.

Of course, it's going on St. Patrick's Day, and that old Jewish standby, corned beef is hitting the shelves—except—

Adele has gone plant-based/ vegetarian/ quasi-vegan, and when I show it to her, she simply says, "Grumble grumble" —which is her way of saying, "No, never, nyet." So, I'm there salivating at the package of corned beef as I slowly return it to the refrigerated section.

And it was all the worst when I received an email from my friend, Jack Sterling—back in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, telling me how much he is looking forward to getting together with the old friends and having a corned beef and cabbage dinner.

Having been a journalist in Jim Thorpe prior to moving to California, those words brought memories to my mind, tears to my eyes and saliva to my mouth.

Next to Fall Foliage, St. Patrick's Day is the major celebration in the town. Though it is currently named for a Native American who had no ties to the town, it's rich history ties it to the Irish mine workers who likewise had no ties to the town.

What is now the town of Jim Thorpe, was formerly known as Mauch Chunk—a real Indian name for a tribe that the European settlers all but annihilated. Later on, anthracite coal was discovered nearby, and miners were imported, including a large number of Irish, to work the mines, and build the canal system and the railroads. Nearby, but not in Mauch Chunk/Jim Thorpe.

Anyway, because of its surrounding Irish heritage, the town being the seat of Carbon County, and the town having an historic district, someone came up with the idea of having a St. Patrick's parade there.



As it turned out, since there were major St. Patrick's Day parades in New York and Philadelphia, the town opted to having the parade a week in advance. Turned out to be good news for the parade as it attracted quite a number of fancy marching bands who saw it as a rehearsal for the following week.

On the other hand, as it came a week earlier, early March, it was often a bit colder in that Pocono Mountain location. I remember once, I was on a Switchback Gravity Railroad float totally bundled up in 19° weather.

And, of course to celebrate, there was lots of beer—often green beer, and corned beef and cabbage. How I miss it.

Adele once made vegan corned beed. I think it was out of wheat gluten. It wasn't bad—she's a good cook.

Oh yeah. I can't wrap up this meaty story without telling why corned beef is eaten on St. Patrick's Day. Well, back in the 1800s, when the Irish fled to America because of the potato famine, many followed the immigration route to the lower East Side of Manhattan—which was heavily populated with Jews.

The Jews didn't eat ham, and as this was before refrigeration, they preserved their beef by koshering it with large kernels of salt, known as corn salt.

When the Irish sought to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with their traditional ham and cabbage, no ham was to be found. But there was corned beef. A new tradition was formed.

But for me, I'm in a quandary. What can I do? I sure miss that corned beef.

~ Al Zagofsky









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