Eat this Word: Country Ham

country hamWHAT? Mold gold. Dry-cured in salt, sugar, and other seasonings; slowly smoked over a hardwood fire; then aged up to 12 months, country ham originated as a way to preserve ham in pre-refrigeration days. The result is saltier and firmer than its more common processed, brine-injected cousin, and to the true ham connoisseur, there is no comparison. If you have a hankering for one, consider an outing along the backroads of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, or Virginia. Most famous of all is the Smithfield ham, which must be made in Smithfield, Virginia, and which must meet criteria laid out by law. According to The American Heritage Cookbook, Queen Victoria had a standing weekly order for Smithfield ham. “Formerly it was not uncommon to find them aged six and seven years,” James Beard wrote of aged, country hams in American Cookery. “They were black, covered with mold, and looked uninviting to the average person, but they gave promise of

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