I’ve never actually eaten corned beef and cabbage together on one plate. Have you?
Corned beef – yes.
Cabbage – yes.
The two together don’t appeal to me in the slightest but as it’s #NationalCornedBeefandCabbageDay on social media I’ve been giving the combination some thought!
During World War Two and the years of austerity immediately afterwards Corned Beef and Cabbage seems to have been a menu staple.
This recipe is from 1941.
And the dish even received royal endorsement!
In 1923 the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII who abdicated in 1936) was on a visit to Canada when apparently he enjoyed his corned beef and cabbage.
The Prince had previously visited Canada in September 1919 when he travelled throughout the province undertaking a series of royal duties. The visit in 1923 was in a personal rather than official capacity so that the Prince could spend some time at his ranch in Alberta. His affair with Mrs Freda Dudley Ward ended in 1923 so maybe he just wanted to be alone for a few weeks.
A short history of corned beef
The precise origins of corned beef are unknown but it probably began in Ancient Europe and the Middle East when people began preserving meat through salt-curing. The word “corn” derives from Old English and describes any small, hard particles or grains such as the coarse granular salts used to cure the beef. The word “corned” may also refer to grains of potassium nitrate which were also used to preserve the meat. Potassium Nitrate is also known as saltpeter – a main component of gunpowder!
The production of corned beef on an industrial scale has been going on since the middle of the the sixteenth century. Britain and Ireland were major producers for both civilian and military consumption.
By the early 1940s production had shifted to South America and was concentrated with Fray Bentos in Uruguay. 16 million cans of corned beef were produced in Uruguay in 1943!
Today, around 80% of the global tinned corned beef supply originates from Brazil.
Everyone has probably heard of Spam fritters
but in the 1950s my mother went one better. She changed the Spam fritter recipe into one for corned beef fritters. She substituted the Spam with corned beef, dipped the slices in a thick batter and deep fried them in hot oil. Served with peas and chips they were pretty good as far as I can remember. I wouldn’t eat them now, of course. Too healthy-eating conscious to risk the cardiac arrest!
Mum never served cabbage with our corned beef whether frittered or not. In fact she didn’t cook cabbage too often as my younger sister had a massive aversion to it unless it was fried up in bubble and squeak. More heart attack food but delicious!
Thanks for reading my blog today.
You might also like Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s Childhood which is in the Amazon Kindle Store. If you want to read Kindle books but don’t want the expense of buying a Kindle, just go to this page on the Amazon site and download the free app for your preferred device.
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