Eating Boston: St. Paddy’s Day

The waves of people walking up and down Broadway Ave. this morning grew increasingly larger, greener, and drunker, as the annual Boston St. Patrick’s day parade got ready to march on down South Boston, or as I soon learned from all the locals, Southie. Surprisingly, Bostonians not only celebrate Irish-American heritage on March 17th every year, but they also celebrate what is know as “Evacuation Day”. Evacuation day commemorates the day during the Revolutionary War in which George Washington forced the British to evacuate Dorchester, which is now a neighborhood adjacent to Southie. That day was March 17, 1776.

I trekked alongside the parade route, dodging droves of happy drunk people and often kicking many Sam Adams beer cans out of my path in search for a famous corned beef on rye sandwich. After about at hour of searching and still no sandwich in hand, i decided it was too cold to continue. I turned back around to my starting point, got in 20 minute line for hot coffee and headed back, defeated. On my way back to the train station, I witnessed the extravagant attempts of those who wanted to be the most “Irish”, which was such a fun experience. A girl was covered in green makeup, a green wig, and bright green glittery tights. Others were simply trying to get the most green beer into their system to proven their Irish-ness. But I leaped with joy as I saw the ubiquitous green man (from the series “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia” ) make an appearance in his clover green body suit and complete Irish attire. Capturing him in photo was enough to make my trip to Southie worthwhile.

Just as I had lost all hope of tasting the famous corned beef on rye, I wandered into a small cafe next to the train station and saw, to my delight, their special board. On it read: Corned beef on rye. Joy!

I sat on a sunny corner inside the quaint cafe to enjoy every bite of the salty, fatty layers of beef tucked inside two loafs of fresh rye bread. There was drunken chaos outside as gusts of frigid wind drove the the drunk hoards away and to their homes. Yet, I remained in a state of bliss as I observed the unrest around me and peacefully ate my sandwich.
Later, I learned that corned beef is primarily an Irish-American dish which probably originated when the Irish in America decidedly substituted the pork for beef. In any case, St. Patrick’s day is also a celebration that is observed mainly in America, and so in the spirit of America and its diverse cultural heritage, I had a famous corned beef sandwich in South Boston on St. Paddy’s day. I am living the life.

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2 thoughts on “Eating Boston: St. Paddy’s Day

  1. Where did you get the idea that corned beef on rye is traditional to Irish or Irish-American cuisine? It’s neither; you’re more likely to find it in a Jewish deli. The traditional Irish dish is bacon (what Americans call Canadian bacon) and cabbage prepared as a boiled dinner (simmered in broth with root vegetables). Corned beef and cabbage is the Irish-American adaptation (beef was expensive in Ireland, cheap here), though in Southie, they’re more likely to use smoked shoulder, a/k/a Boston butt or picnic ham, in their boiled dinner.

    • Oh, I wasn’t aware that it was more of a Jewish food. I actually saw it listed in some menu specials for the occasion in area restaurants and several yelp threads. But, like I said, St.Paddy’s by know is more of an American holiday since I read its not as heavily celebrated in Ireland as it is here. So in the end, the point of the experience was more about soaking in the culture of South Boston.

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