corned beef

Yesterday, for St. Patrick’s Day, I had corned beef and cabbage (though I replaced the classic mashed potatoes with jasmine rice, and I had red wine instead of dark beer, so sue me). Of course, this made me think about the expression corned beef.

What follows is not even slightly original, but cribbed from OED2, with a bit of reading between the lines.

The entry for the adjective corned starts with the metaphorical ‘formed into grains or particles; granulated’, with the early cites (starting in 1577) referring to substances granulated the way salt is. Then comes the specialized metonymical sense ‘of meat: preserved or cured with salt; salted’, with cites beginning with Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), used of beef, then also of pork. (It seems to be used only of the flesh of “beasts”, not of fowl.)

Better eaten when not green, of course. The green comes from the cabbage.



One Response to “corned beef”

  1. The Ridger Says:

    “Classic mashed potatoes”? We always had it with little whole white potatoes, boiled. Yum.

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