Antedating "Virginia ham" to 1795 & 1803 (UNCLASSIFIED)

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 22 21:56:30 UTC 2010

Serious or not, I would compare and contrast the use to the use of the
"Boston butt", which is today primarily limited to the South and is said
to refer to the particular [low-quality] cuts of port that used to be
cured and packaged in New England for long-term consumption elsewhere.
I've seen cuts that ranged from 4 inches in length to a foot and a half
in girth referred to as "Boston butt", and I have not spent much time in
the South. It is does appear to be a specific reference to cuts made
from the shoulder of a pig, near the blade. These occasionally include
the blade as well, although more often they are boneless. They may
encompass a single muscle or the entire shoulder. There is little doubt
that Boston butts used to be consumed all over the colonies. At some
point, I would like to track down the use.

I have also seen "Boston picnic" and "Boston shoulder" at various
butchers and supermarkets. But, unlike Virginia ham, Carolina ham and
Southern ham, it never refers to the place of origin.


On 3/22/2010 2:53 PM, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC wrote:
>>> Or maybe he just slaughtered pigs, and the 20th/21st century
>>> menu-writers decided it should be called "Virginia Ham".
>> I trust this is not serious?  It was on the menu for John Davis when
>> he traveled in Virginia before 1800.  (And even if this is an
>> elaboration -- I think he was one of the principal elaborators of the
>> tale of Capt. Smith and Pocahontas -- the phrase still dates to 1803.)
>> Joel
>> Society -
> It was serious in the sense that maybe GW never used the exact phrase "Virginia Ham" in his writings, but that modern restaurant managers, believing that "Virginia ham" looks better written on a menu than "ham", chose to describe it that way.  In other words, just because the menu says that an entrée is authentic to period times, doesn't mean that it is lexicographically faithful to Washington's writings or his table.

The American Dialect Society -

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