Foods of the Old Country (FTSF)


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Hi all:

Anna here, with a Finish the Sentence Friday post about St. Patrick’s Day. My most vivid memories of St. Patrick’s Day come from my time living just outside of New Orleans. The people of Southern Louisiana don’t need much of an excuse for a party and a parade, and St. Patty’s Day gives us a great reason for both fun-filled parties and parades. True to form, the St. Patrick’s Day parade comes with floats, and the wonderful tradition of handing out cabbages and carrots in honor of traditional Irish dishes.

(The veggies used to be thrown – but after the predictable outcome of drunk people hurling cabbages from moving parade floats, cabbages are now handed out gently (as in the picture above). Progress? Maybe yes. Maybe no.)

In any case, memories of those St. Patrick’s Day parades stirred up thoughts of “Foods of the Old Country”. Whatever “Old Country” that might mean for each of us. The U.S. (and Canada!) is a nation of immigrants, and our families brought with them the simple, often healthy, foods of their homelands. This is true of traditional St. Patrick’s Day foods, and also traditional Irish peasant foods as well.

Old country foods and recipes tended to be healthier and cheaper because they often were simpler, based more on whole foods, and have less sugar, fat, and salt added to them. Interestingly, when recent immigrants turn back to the foods of the old country (for economic or other reasons), they can sometimes eat more healthily and cheaply.  But when immigrants feel the social pressure to choose “American” foods over their traditional cuisine, the amount of calories they consume goes up.

So it seems that there is value in rediscovering foods of the Old Country. Cheaper, more healthy, and sometimes even tastier than what we, the children of our immigrant parents, grand-parents, or great-grandparents, are eating today.

So what do you think? Do you chow down on corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day (or the more traditional Irish bacon and cabbage)? Does you family have a ethnic heritage that comes with wonderful ethnic foods? Did your parents/grandparents/great-grandparents immigrate and bring healthy and delicious recipes with them that are still part of your family’s cuisine? If so, what is your favorite recipe? Please let me know in the comments!

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. Today’s prompt was ” When it comes to Saint Patrick’s Day….” and was originated by our fabulous host Kristi Campbell.

Today’s Host:

Kristi: Finding Ninee

Today’s co-hosts:

Lisa: The Meaning of Me

Kelly: Just TypiKel 



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18 comments on “Foods of the Old Country (FTSF)
  1. Allie says:

    I lived in New Orleans for a year – and yes – they know how to celebrate St. Paddy’s day! Especially if it falls during Mardi Gras. I love Sheppard’s pie – a simple recipe with just the hamburger, onions and mash potatoes.
    Allie recently posted…Whatever Happened to My St. Patrick’s Day?My Profile

    • Anna says:

      Sheppard’s pie can be delicious! Thanks for bringing out some wonderful memories for me. Where did you live in NO? I lived in a few places, but wound up near the Lake in a truly beautiful neighborhood. It’s mostly gone now, post-Katrina, but there were some amazing old houses and streets when I was living there.

  2. A.J. Goode says:

    My family is such a mish-mash of nationalities that the only “old-country” recipe we have is a PB&J.

    But I love the idea that old-country foods were healthier before they were Americanized. I had no idea, but that certainly makes sense. Still, I love me some corned beef and cabbage.
    A.J. Goode recently posted…Shamrocks, Blarney, and MomMy Profile

    • Anna says:

      Corned beef and cabbage can be good for you!! It’s only when we finish it off with pie, and candy, and chocolate — all in one sitting — that we start to have problems. Loved the PBJ Old Country reference!

  3. Honestly, as a kid, I do not remember having a St Patrick’s Day meal but I do remember when my mom introduced corned beef to us (and I hated it and have never tried it again since but I’m not a big beef person anyway). I do love me some sourkrout though and that’s super healthy right?
    The first time I went to New Orleans was for St. Paddy’s day. It was amazing and full of hurricanes and drunkenness and the post I wrote about vampires and peeing in a graveyard. THIS is way way better though and thank you so much for linking with Finish the Sentence again, Anna! <3
    Kristi Campbell recently posted…Early Intervention Evaluations and the St. Patrick’s Day that Wasn’tMy Profile

    • Anna says:

      Yep, I recall that post — but I hadn’t remembered that it took place in NO. I could totally see you in NO, although I’d see you as more of a Mardi Gras or JazzFest kind of girl; at least in your younger rowdier years…. (I fully admit that I loved Mardi Gras and JazzFest when I was younger, although now I’d be petrified about losing the little ones…) Thanks for your comments, and your support!

  4. Grinning at the hurling of the cabbages. When I was little we’d attend parades at our cabin. They’d hurl the candies at us. It was magical. Must have been hell for my mom dealing with 3 sugared up kids though. As for fave foods I shall never forget Sunday night dinners at my Nanny and Grandad’s. She’d cook all day. We were treated to the best roast beef, at least 4 vegetables and homemade breads and soups. With a mom who admittedly loathed cooking I think Nanny went out of her way to ensure we ate well at least one night a week.
    Kelly LcKenzie recently posted…St. Patrick’s Day Irish SconesMy Profile

    • Anna says:

      You’re Nanny sounds wonderful! I think that families can bond so much over food: preparing it and eating it together. And yes, cabbage hurling can be grinworthy, so long as you are out of the firing line!

  5. Not much on the corned beef and cabbage, but my family has some wonderful recipes – Italian and German specialties from my Mom’s side, a few Pennsylvania German from my Dad’s, Jewish favorites learned from my Hub’s family, and the Polish and Slovak dishes my Grandmother and her Mom and Aunts learned to make from the ladies in the neighboring parish. LOVE traditional foods and the stories that go with them.
    Lisa @ The Meaning of Me recently posted…FTSF – It’s Not Easy Eating GreenMy Profile

    • Anna says:

      Traditional foods are the Best! Plus the stories DO make those foods taste better; I don’t care what anybody says!

  6. We have no old country dishes on my side. Honestly, I grew up in California in the 70s and my mom cooked casseroles pretty much every night! I didn’t know how to cook a chicken breast or pork chop until I was an adult because everything I’d eaten growing up was a mish-mash of avocados/cheese/sauces/casserole things.

    I will drink a beer in the spirit of St. Patty’s day, tho!
    Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom recently posted…When It Comes to St. Patrick’s DayMy Profile

    • Anna says:

      Casseroles can be cool! Plus California has wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables — I’ve always been impressed when I’m there with the variety of produce. Enjoy your St. Paddy’s Day beer!

  7. I can imagine someone getting hit with a cabbage could cause a concussion! I didn’t know that was a thing. Glad to know they are handed out gently now. Though for some it probably seems the fun has been taken out of the celebration.

    My family (parents/brother) never ate anything traditional for any holiday because we were vegetarians. And all the holidays I know of had meat. But honestly didn’t even know about cabbage and corn beef for St. Patrick’s Day until reading some of the posts today.
    Kenya G. Johnson recently posted…A Terrible Privilege…My Profile

    • Anna says:

      I remember your post about your Dad, and growing up as vegetarians. I can see why that would influence your ideas about holiday foods!

  8. Dana says:

    Honestly, most of the traditional Jewish meals my grandmother made weren’t particularly healthy. Lots of chicken fat, although at least all of the ingredients were real food, not processed. But I’ll take a corned beef on rye over corned beef and cabbage any day!
    Dana recently posted…Who is this Pat guy and why are we celebrating?My Profile

    • Anna says:

      I love corned beef sandwiches! But I’m really particular about my corned beef; so much so that my friends give me a lot of grief each time I’m thinking of ordering one in a restaurant. “Why are you doing that; you know that you won’t like it?” Life can be tough as a corned beef connoisseur!! Thanks for your comment!

  9. Nicki says:

    We are a chopped liver, brisket and kugel family all the way. Not that healthy, but definitely delicious!

    Great post, Anna!
    Nicki recently posted…Where’s The Pot Of Gold At The End Of This Rainbow?My Profile

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