Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Colonial Ham

David Shields, an important and innovative literary scholar based at the University of South Carolina, has a great essay on the history of American ham called "The Search for the Cure" in the current issue of Common-Place (here), an online journal of early American history sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Mass.

Shield's essay traces the various means of curing hams in the colonial period, tracing the histories of "two schools of ham production: the dry-cure sect, who would increasingly view themselves as purists and traditionalists, and the wet curists, who regarded themselves as experimentalists in taste, economy, and scientific agriculture, yet whose pork brined in a barrel was the staple of the common household." It's a great read, especially for those of you interested in the history of American foodways.

Today's image comes from an on-line article by Patricia Mitchell on the history of the Smithfield ham. The image is of a circa-1930 Baltimore newspaper advertisement that features a peanut-shaped hog and Smithfield cured meats. Mitchell's essay can be found here at

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