In Search of Corned Beef and Cabbage

shamrockWhen Pat and I married, I promised to love, honor, and cook corned beef and cabbage each year on March 17th.  And for 30 plus years of marriage, I kept these vows. In the early years, my attempts were passable, edible – but nothing special. With each year, dinner improved. Before we left Colorado, I served corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, Irish soda bread and Guinness chocolate cake to thirty some dinner guests. On that one night, I lived up to my vows.

My family moved to New Jersey before the Revolutionary War, fought alongside George Washington at the Battle of Monmouth, and never ate an Irish meal in their lives. My mother’s WASP heritage doomed her – and her family – to a lifetime of bland meals; brown meat, white potatoes, some type of vegetable – most likely boiled but served up on fine English china.  It wasn’t all bad. She did make a mean apple pie.

Since moving to Central Europe, we have given up many of our American traditions. Last Thanksgiving was the low point, I worked, we ate something for dinner, but I don’t remember what – certainly not turkey and pumpkin pie. In general, we live a when in Rome type of life. As our time here extends, I want to incorporate our home traditions and meld them into a set of best of  experiences.

Today, I set out in search of corned beef and cabbage. Grocery stores won’t carry corned beef, Irish pubs might, perhaps an American chain restaurant serving an expat function. I mentioned to Pat that we could try the Irish pub across from St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Julie, the local government closed them down last month. Turns out, Hungary enacted a law which allows only Hungarians to hold pub leases. Makes sense, right? Let’s send the Irish pub owners packing. Attila, old chap, please pour me a Guinness.

Today, I scouted the tourist area and the Jewish quarter. I stumbled upon a few Irish pubs but none which mentioned corned beef on their menus.  I learned Jack Doyle’s Irish pub offers up an eclectic mix of goulash, fried brie cheese, nachos, and duck. Seems we got what we deserved when we closed down the Irish owned pubs.

I haven’t given up, not yet. Tomorrow, an Irish parade marches from Liberty Square to Instant Ruin Pub where there will be traditional Irish dancing, music and food.  Stay tuned…. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Categories: Insiders Budapest

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2 replies


  1. Finding St. Patrick’s Day in Budapest « The World In Between
  2. Óbuda: A little bit communism, a little bit ancient Budapest « The World In Between

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