Esther Galan, the founder of Biloxi Southern Food, wrote an interesting piece on country hams. Here’s an excerpt:
It’s bad enough that sixteen years of living in England has affected my accent to the point that when I’m in the US people can’t even tell I’m American, much less from the South. But what I’m about to admit will mark me out even more so as an outsider, despite the fact that I was born in Virginia, spent the most of my childhood there, and the majority of my relatives happily reside within it’s borders. The admission? I did not grow up eating country ham, nor did I taste it before I was well into adulthood.
Although I could blame my Philadelphia-born grandmother for this lapse, in actual fact the finger should be pointed at the American food industry, which became obsessed with mass prodution thoughout the second half of the last century. Country ham producers did what every other food business was doing at the time – commodifying their products to compete on price. Country ham, however, requires time, patience, space and more than a little instinct to produce – something machines struggle to duplicate. As a result, true country ham became as rare as Bengal white tigers or, closer to home, stone ground grits. read more