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Today, I bought an unusual item (for me): corned beef. And a more mundane item, half a cabbage.
Anybody who has ever dined at my place knows one great truth. I am a great hostess, and a lousy cook. I particularly can’t cook anything that has ever walked on four legs i.e. red meat. I can at least communicate with a chicken and get it to cooperate and contribute to the evening. In my book, The Rebel Cook, I offer excruciating examples of my culinary disasters.

So why on earth would I, the greatest kitchen klutz of all time,especially with red meat, buy corned beef?

Because, reading the ubiquitous recipes for St. Patrick’s Day, which usually involve corned beef and cabbage, I was transported back to my youth, when I was a young artist attending what was then the Banff School of Fine Arts (and which is now the Banff Centre). Musicians, dancers, painters, actors ….. we were teenagers or young adults, and a combination of our age and the mountain air and the rigorous schedule of classes, made us hungry all the time! Relentlessly hungry!

We ate in a communal hall where huge platters of the daily offerings from the kitchen were passed from one end of the table to another. This was the first time I had ever tasted corned beef and cabbage. I can remember it now, forty years later. The incredibly tender corned beef, and the salt and pepper cabbage. We cleaned every platter. This was one of the favourite dishes in my circle of young artists (unlike the soggy chocolate pudding which one wag dubbed Beethoven’s Last Movement ……)

So, for some crazy reason, I am hoping to replicate or at least, remember, the gorgeous platters offered up by the kitchen of the Banff School of Fine Arts, not so much for the Irish, as for the artists of my youth.

Comments (2)


  1. Sharon Cook says:

    I remember just this meal at the Banff School of Fine Arts — but in my case for the United Nations’ Student seminars held there. You have brought back some great memories on St. Paddy’s Day!

  2. linda kupecek says:

    Oh, your comment on the UN Student seminars brought back more memories – of the glorious times in the mountains, the bracing air, and the constant stimulation. One could be walking on a path between buildings, listening to two cellists consulting on a passage, or a group of committed UN students discussing world peace. I remember watching ballet rehearsals (and I was still hungry!) in the evening, glorying in every detail of the choreography. To be among artists and intellectuals and souls interested in so much more than the next dollar, was heaven.

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