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Tech Times
March 2017
Corned Beef and Reuben's
Meat and potatoes is generally hot on the menu for St. Patrick’s day. Corned beef and cabbage or a succulent Reuben sandwich are often traditions this time of year. So, where did corned beef really come from? And what about Reuben sandwiches… are they even Irish?
What is corned beef?
At the risk of sounding a bit like the television show How It’s Made, corned beef is actually beef brisket that has been salt-cured so it can be stored for a longer term than traditionally cut meats. Large grains of rock salt, also known as “corns” of salt, and nitrites are used during the curing process.
Where did it come from?
Curing meat with salt is an age old practice dating all the way back to the early Egyptians and ancient Europeans. However, Irish corned beef wasn’t traded regularly until the 17th century. British soldiers actually coined the term “corned beef”. They preferred corned beef because its non-perishable attributes and competitive pricing.
Do the Irish really eat corned beef?
This is where things get a bit muddy. Even though corned beef is generally a part of St. Patrick’s day celebrations, early Irish folks saw cows as sacred. Generally, they used cattle for their strength in the field and dairy products. Cows were often seen as a source of wealth and were only killed for their meat when they could no longer work. The Cattle Acts of 1663 and 1667 prohibiting the export of live cattle to England are what truly fueled the beef boom for Ireland and corned beef became a hot seller.
An Irish dish from New York city?
I’ll bet all this corned beef talk has you thinking about a nice juicy Reuben. Well, that’s a different story. Arnold Reuben, a German-Jewish deli owner in New York City is said to have invented the “Reuben Special in 1914. Bernard Sobel, in his 1953 book about Broadway, claims that the Reuben sandwich was actually created for the lovely Marjorie Rambeau late one evening after the Deli had closed. Reuben’s Delicatessen (1908-2001) was famous for their fine sandwiches.
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