Yes, this post is about ham. No, I have not been nipping at the holiday punch bowl. Forever pressing the boundaries of what constitutes "style," I have deemed that a ham indigenous to the northeast of England is rakish enough to be included under the generally accepted definition of the word.
I realize this is a first for a fashion blog.
This is not just any ham. Woe to the person who confuses it with an uppity American ham, no matter how long said American ham has hung in the rafters of your grandmother's Ozark barn. It is also not a sugar-sweet Yunnan ham. The York is a ham with a long and colorful history that may include being smoked over timber scraps from York Minster. This is one very ancient regional speciality. It has a mild, salty flavour developed from a three-month maturation process.
History of a York ham: The York ham is taken from the Large White pig. This prosaic description is not mine. There really is a pig called the Large White. We did not invent Large White pigs in America. Let someone else take credit once in a while. The Large White pig was first recognised as a breed in the mid-nineteenth century. It is also know as a Yorkshire pig. In England, a pig is a pig is a pig, unlike in America, where a younger swine is a pig and an older pig is a hog. In America, "swine" is not a term of affection.
The York ham is a dry-cured, farmhouse ham. I can tell you that the hams of Britain are exceptional and well worth savoring, as is most of the British cuisine. In fact, this anglophile finds it superior to our own. The entire time I lived in England I only had one bad meal, and that was at a Burger King.
Any English ham may now be called a York ham, as long as it adheres to the York method of curing by salt, saltpeter, and sugar rub. Since I do not wish to bother Fortnum & Mason with a pedantic question about authenticity, I will direct you to...
Other delightful British things: the blog of fashion editor Liberty London Girl, a must-read. She's sassy, sexy, and knows her way around a stalk of asparagus. Liberty Girl has just had her birthday, so please have a butcher's and offer your felicitations.
Fortnum & Mason York Ham, £97.00
Image: Fortnum & Mason