If one were to ask anyone back home what the most traditional Irish food is, they would most likely say corned beef and cabbage. This is a meal most often cooked and sought after by many Irish Americans especially on Saint Patrick’s Day and on Sundays. However, this is not actually the case in Ireland.
I was not aware of this until my first Sunday in Ireland while staying at the Valley House Hostel in Spiddal. At this hostel we were served traditional Irish meals by chefs for the two nights we stayed at this place. I was warned that the meal was “Ireland’s version of what Americans call corned beef and cabbage” by one of the ladies who was serving and cooking us our meals. Instead of corn beef and cabbage I was given what the Irish call bacon and cabbage.
As an American, bacon is most commonly thought of as a greasy, fatty breakfast food that many people tend to over indulge in. I may have just excited many Americans thinking that they could replace corned beef with bacon to have more of a traditional meal, but bacon is not the same in Ireland. It is simply ham that tends to be grilled yet is still just as delicious.
When my plate was placed in front of me I was confronted with a juicy piece of ham with a side of mashed potatoes and a greener looking cabbage, that had been cut into strips and of course, brown bread. Contrary to what many may think due to the potato famine, potatoes and bread are served at basically every meal. The meal was not what I was expecting but was quite satisfying.
It is impressive that almost all of America has been deceived by this meal, thinking that the Irish eat corned beef. Prior to coming to Ireland, I truly believed that I would be served more corned beef and cabbage than I could eat. Instead I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the variety and simple differences of each meal I ate.