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Oct 11, 2006 09:02 PM

irish vs. jewish corned beef

Anyone know the particular differences between Irish and Jewish corned beef?
I've been thinking about this subject for a while, and owuld even love to read a history of corned beef if one were available, but I regularly wonder why the dish is served either by Irish or Jewish did that confluence come about?

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  1. Well, corned beef was historically not an important part of the diet in Ireland at all; cattle in Ireland were much more important for dairy (for poor folk, buttermilk) that for eating flesh.
    Thus, corned pork, if any corned mammal flesh was to be had, was the thing in Ireland (pigs being much cheaper than cattle to use for flesh eating). Corned beef was an adaptation in the US to the relative abundance of cheap beef (corned beef and cabbage is a distant derivative of genuine Irish vernacular cuisine, which btw is quite wonderful).

    I cannot speak to the Jewish (central or eastern European) tradition in this regard.

    1. The link on wikipedia:

      explains the link between Irish settlers and their Jewish neighbours in the lower east side of New York

      1. The tradition is shared because (I've been told) the Irish are one of the ten lost tribes of Israel.

        14 Replies
        1. re: Gary Soup

          ...and here I always thought (HOPED) [WISHED] {PRAYED} it was the Chinese!!!!!

          1. re: ChowFun_derek

            I have heard about many nations being one of the possible lost 10 tribes. Including China!

          2. re: Gary Soup

            In one of the Father Blackie Ryan novels, he states, "The Jews and the Irish do not share a heritage, but they do share a psychosis."

            1. re: Fydeaux

              That makes less than no sense to my mind...Italians and Jews...yes .. Aggita (sp) and tsuris, family, food....
              Chinese..... food, education, extended international families, ancient history etc.
     not really, alcohol, nope, dancing without gesticulating arms..nope
              psychosis...psychotic....don't see it....reviving a dead language, maybe...

                1. re: Siobhan

                  No, as my grandmother would say, the Irish, the Jews, the Poles and the Armenians were obviously beloved of God.

                  The old saw is that where the Jews have guilt, the Irish have shame.

                  Both have great vernacular music traditions, which along with African-Americans helped create American popular music. (Btw, step-dancing is hardly the only form of Irish dancing; Celtic peoples are as musical a people as many sub-Saharan African peoples in the sense that the very being is infused with musical sensibility).

                  And real Irish foods can be marvelous; it's just rare in the US.

                2. re: ChowFun_derek

                  I would have to say that Jews and the Irish are diametrically opposed when it comes to their psychosis. Suffering and oppression do not a common culture make. Italians and Jews, on the other hand, are really very similar. At least in NYC. :)

                  1. re: fara

                    I couldn't agree more with Fara--polar opposites. And I think that I can speak definitively on this subject, as I am half-Irish and half-Jewish... There's just no reconciling the two.

                    And I am living far, far from any of my corned beef bretheren. I must learn to make my own this year.

                    1. re: butterfly

                      You poor baby on both counts...must be like a total internal 'war'...but you do get to create a corned beef and cabbage on rye sandwich!!!

                      1. re: butterfly

                        Hey, everyone: it was just a line from a novel that I read, not a serious socio/anthropological study. Here's another one, paraphrased because I dont recall the exact wording, from a novel about medical students called THE HOUSE OF GOD: "The Jews and the Irish are similar in their strong attachment to the family unit and the concomitant f**ked up nature of their lives."

                        In Sunday School back in the early 60s, I remember learning that the Lord Mayor of Dublin was Jewish, and that after Israel and New York City, Dublin had the largest Jewish community anywhere (I dont know if this is true or not; my Sunday School teachers were occasionally given to hyperbole).

                        [Does anyone else remember a Saturday Night Live routine which had the cast all using Irish accents rhapsodising about how fine the Purim parade was? Is it just coincidence that Purim and St Pat's Day often fall in such close proximity?]

                        No matter. Being a midwestern Jew married to a woman of Irish/Scottish/British descent, I am always happy to wash down my corned beef on rye with a Harp.

                        1. re: Fydeaux

                          > Dublin had the largest Jewish community anywhere

                          That must have been a joke. Ireland has never had a Jewish population of more than 6000 (just after WWII).

                          I now live in Spain and get my Ashkenazi Jewish food needs met by Argentine expats (and do they ever make some good streudel!). How is that for confused?

                          1. re: Fydeaux

                            In the New York St. Paddy's Day parade the "Yiddish Sons of Erin" always had a float with the jewish colleen Queen Esther (beauty Queen)..
                            ps, I think the second quote is a big crock too..."noncomotant nature of their lives"....wrong!!!
                            Was that a "David's Harp"???

                          2. re: butterfly

                            I know two full-fledged Irish Jews. I think they will beg to differ!

                          3. re: fara

                            As a Born.New Yorker..I couldn't agree with your assessment more!
                            Italians and twins separated at birth!!

                    2. One of the quicke differences I've noticed-

                      Irish-Style Corned Beef typically is both the flat brisket and the slab of muscle across the top (dickle). It is great for slicing thick because of the different muscle textures and decent fat quanity.

                      Jewish-Style Corned beef is usually just the flat brisket.- once brined and clow cooked, it is lean and easy to slice thinly- all the muscle fibers go the same direction.

                      Other than that- if the animal was slaughtered Kosher- the process (pickling spices, braising and/or slow roasting) are usually the same.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lunchbox

                        that's definitely something i've noticed in general too - it's exaclty these kinds of things that i'm trying to organize in my understanding - thanks!

                      2. the main difference is sodium nitrate. that's what causes it to be pink. most 'irish' ones have it. not sure if it's kosher or not. it's not a requirement or anything for it to be irish, but in today's classifications, it's the most common distinction.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: ashwood

                          Both have it in the supermarkets here in
                 Shensons,...then again maybe Shensons is just kosher style....

                          1. re: ashwood

                            Actually, for Irish-American corned beef in the Boston area, no nitrates has historically been the norm. Gray corned beef. Tastes beefier that way. Better texture, too. Can still find it in more locally oriented markets.

                            1. re: Karl S

                              Yup- I grew up in a secnd generation Irish household in the Boston area, and we always had gray corned beef. Still love it! My mom and grandmother used to get the corned ribs to cook with it. Can still find them at local stores around St Patrick's day. I have actually never cooked a Jewish style corned beef- only had it on sandwiches. I will sy it is hard to find good deli style corned beef in the area.

                              1. re: Karl S

                                my mom used to make corned beef w/o nitrates and it was somewhere inbetween grey and red.
                                are you saying that you think it's hard to keep it red w/o nitrates?