Before you start hitting the Guinness or Jameson's this St. Patrick's Day, sit down for a hearty meal. Look around at just about any restaurant in America on March 17th, and chances are, you'll see corned beef and cabbage on the menu. It's the most typical of Irish foods, right?
Actually, even though it's wildly popular holiday fare in the United States, corned beef and cabbage isn't all that popular in Ireland. Originally a dish for peasants, it just doesn't provide much excitement for native Irish.
Corned beef is simply beef preserved in a salty brine. The term "corn" comes from the coarse salt grains used to cure the meat. Corning was extremely important before the days of refrigeration. Farmers slaughtered and corned the beef before winter. Then, to break the Lenten fast, they would serve the corned beef with a fresh spring cabbage on Easter Sunday.