If I had one last meal, it would be a bowl…
…make that two bowls of my Mother’s corned beef and cabbage.
And I’m not even a big fan of the stuff.
Why would I choose corned beef and cabbage when there are so many other wonderful cuisines to choose from?
It’s because of the love.
I was visiting my Mother and her husband Jim in Virginia on St. Patrick’s day in 1975 when Jim set to work on a project he’d been wanting to try out for a long time. He had been talking about it all week.
Jim was going to make his first pot of corned beef and cabbage.
It was a joy watching him prepare the vegetables and marinating the meat. He did his very best to coax this difficult dish to perfection.
Let me tell you, from start to finish, it was a whole lot of work. That was the first time I ever tried corned beef and cabbage.
And I found myself grateful for his efforts.
You know you are loved when someone cooks all day, and then invites you to sit at their table.
Eventually, my Mother took over the cooking of the corned beef and cabbage. Jim was the lucky one because he was the taste tester for the next thirty-five years. Never leaving her side, he oversaw her preparations which no doubt ensured the dish’s success.
After losing Jim in 2010, corned beef and cabbage became my Mother’s favourite food as each bowl she ladled out was full of memories of the time they spent together.
Each time that I visited her in the past five years, she would always prepare a pot for me.
She would begin to prepare it long before my arrival at Burlington Vermont’s Airport, by purchasing only the best cut of beef possible. Once I was there, we would purchase fresh vegetables at the market.
The next morning I would wake to the smell of coffee and the sound of the cabbage being finely chopped. All day, the aroma of the bubbling brew in the pressure cooker would drive me crazy.
The last step of Mother’s meticulous preparations involved melting butter and infusing it into the broth.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, dear friends, loved ones and readers.
Éirinn go Brách.