Thursday, 11 February 2016

English ham

It seems slightly bizarre to start this entry with a reference to "Jambon de Paris", but this was a term I first heard my mother use with a contemptuous tone of voice to refer to plasticky ham of any kind.

Even worse than plasticky ham, though, I reckon, is tinned ham. Once a luxury - imagine receiving it from the Americans in World War II! - I associate it with impoverished old ladies. I recall a school friend and I being given it for supper and heating it on a candle which gave it an interesting grilled edge.

Finally, I must confess that although I may receive a rocketing for saying so, I find it difficult to distinguish our various regional hams: Wiltshire ham, Yorkshire ham, Northampton ham for goodness' sake? That is not to say that British ham is a bad thing. Think of a ham sandwich with granary bread, unsalted butter, wholegrain mustard and gherkins for lunch. One of my breakfasts of choice would be poached eggs on ham, the home-cooked, crumbly variety, like my grandmother used to make. She once cautioned me shortly before some guests arrived not to offer them ham, because they were Jewish.

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