In the days before refrigeration, meat was preserved the old fashioned way, with salt or spices.  As a result, many traditional dishes have been born. No Cork home would be without a piece of Spiced Beef at Christmas.  Joints are salted and coated in secret spice mix,  then left to marinate for months in advance of the big day, giving aromatic flavour to the meat.  Spiced Beef is simmered slowly, then usually served cold in slices. Corned mutton is another dish time has not forgotten. Mutton from mature sheep can be a tough cut, but ‘corning’ in a brine solution followed by long slow cooking tenderises it.  It’s a regular feature on the menu of the Farmgate Café in the English Market,  not to be missed by visitors to the area.  Bacon is an all time favourite for its flavour – always traditionally served with fresh cabbage cooked with the joint and some floury potatoes, and sometimes a creamy parsley or onion sauce.  Although a plate of bacon and cabbage can be enjoyed all over Ireland, this heritage Cork dish goes back to the nineteenth century when pork production increased and curing the meat for bacon rose in popularity.  Before this, many small holders and farmers in the country raised their own pig for food and learned how to cure the meat for bacon.Cork was also the home of the Irish butter industry, represented by the Butter Museum in the Shandon area of the city. The creamy butter of yesteryear is still produced by hand on some small farms in the region.