Long before “green Shabbat” referred to stacking biodegradable dishes on the synagogue kiddush table, “Corned beef and Cabbage” became my family’s green Shabbat.
When 6th grade ended and my best friend, Shauna Ritchie, returned to Ireland with her family, I was devastated. The summer passed and middle school started. Life continued, but not without the distinct sense that something important was missing.
Mid-March arrived, and with Purim over and Pesach still in the future, my mother decided she needed an occasion in the interim to bring our family together. In honor of Shauna, my mom declared the arrival of “Corned Beef and Cabbage” Shabbat – a celebration which, not-coincidentally, coincided with the week of St. Patrick’s Day.
Nearly twenty years later, various combinations of extended family and friends – Jewish, non-Jewish and Irish – have gathered each year in my mother’s dining room to celebrate our peculiar Shabbat tradition.
Even during the years when the vegetarians (myself included) nearly outnumbered the meat eaters, this meal has been and remains all about the meat. Corned beef, the meat of Ireland and Jewish delicatessens, is what brings us together. The beef and cabbage are carefully boiled; the spicy mustard is placed in our finest Shabbat bowls. After kiddish, the wine is quickly replaced with Guinness. We toast to the pleasures of food, family, and long-ago friends.
Photo from Cooking Light. Photography by Randy Mayor and Styling by Melanie J. Clarke