A couple of days ago, as I thought about writing this post, I asked my youngest brother if he’d ever eaten corned beef. Surprisingly, he told me that he had only ever heard about it but had never actually tasted it. Could this be true? (Did we grow up in the same home?) Is it possible that there are people out there who have never tasted corned beef?
I remember when I was first introduced to corned beef. I was very young, possibly even before my baby brother was born (I am trying to believe him). It was on a day when we’d gone grocery shopping as a family when my Dad picked up a tin of corned beef, seeming very happy to have found it. As soon as we got home and groceries were unloaded, my Dad grabbed some crackers and a plate and headed off to his favorite green armchair with us kids in tow (we weren’t about to miss out on whatever was making Dad seem so happy). My father then carefully opened the can of corned beef (those cans can be lethal I tell you!), spread some of the beef on a few crackers, and gave each of us kids some to taste. I liked it immediately!
I don’t remember eating a lot of corned beef after that growing up. My next vivid memory of corned beef was during my first year of University when a good friend always kept a stash in her room. More recently, when I found myself rummaging through a good student-friend’s cupboard in search of ingredients to make a meal, I was once more reminded of corned beef when I ended up having a tasty corned beef sandwich. With an adult’s mind, I was a bit more inquisitive this time about what this product was actually made of.
What Is in Corned Beef?
The ingredients list on the label of the Heinz tin from which I got the corned beef read: cooked beef, beef, water, salt, sugar, and sodium nitrite, which I’ve since come to find out is a pretty typical list of ingredients for canned corned beef. I also learned from the label that the corned beef I was eating was a product of Brazil which, along with Argentina, is one of the world’s largest producers of corned beef.
Where does Corned Beef Originate From?
Through a quick search on the Internet (how did we live before the Internet?!), I found out that corned beef was a main staple for British solders during World War I, especially when troops found themselves separated from their supplies when in enemy territory. I also learned that the reason that corned beef is packed in the distinctively shaped container that it comes in is to enable the corned beef to slide out as one piece so that it can easily be sliced (I have to try that. I’ve never thought of slicing corned beef—I just scoop it out. 🙂 ). On the downside, I also learned that, typically, corned beef is 12.5% fat and 2.3% salt by weight—so not very healthy!
Still, on occasion, I love me some corned beef. Particularly, I love it the way my paternal aunt serves it: fried (and I don’t mean shallow fried) with onions as part of a sumptuous breakfast. I can never get enough!
How do you like your corned beef (buy some on Amazon now)? I can’t wait to hear all about it.