Near the middle 1700's Mr. Malory Todd began curing the meat of the free ranging hogs near Smithfield, Virginia. Thus was born the Smithfield Hams. The local hogs cleaned the peanut fields and developed an oily meat that lent itself to the salt curing process.
Modern combines cleaned the fields so well the leavings were inadequate for the hogs and soybeans were substituted with similarly successful results. Today several areas near Smithfield produce exceptionally fine Virginia Country Cured Hams. The key to quality is the Virginia Dept. of Agriculture's elite award of "Virginia's Finest". This highly respected and coveted designation is a promise of a superior ham.
The process of salt/smoke curing was improved with time and experience. The process was elevated to an art form and family recipes became closely guarded secrets. Modern plants with controlled environment rooms allowed major advances in the uniformity of the hams day after day. The secrets are still handed down from generation to generation as even today the best of Virginia's country cured hams are family traditions. Traditional Virginia Country Cured hams are still packed in the old fashioned cotton bags.
Fondest memory: SMITHFIELD HAM
"Genuine Smithfield hams [are those] cut from the carcasses of peanut-fed hogs, raised in the peanut-belt of the State of Virginia or the State of North Carolina, and which are cured, treated, smoked, and processed in the town of Smithfield, in the State of Virginia."
1926 Statute passed by General Assembly of Virginia
When I was a kid, my mom used to buy Smithfield ham (which was black on the outside and very hard) to have with turkey at Christmas. She also had an hors o'euvre recipe that she got in Italy which called for Prosciutto ham cut thin and draped over melon slices. She substituted Smithfield ham and had it as part of an elegant luncheon.
So I ordered the pictured Smithfield Sampler appetizer for $5.95 in memory of my mom's recipe. The Sampler was thin sliced ham with melon and other fruit (grapes, a strawberry and orange slice)
Smithfield Historic District ** (added 1973 - District - #73002022)
Roughly bounded by Pagan River, Little Creek, and town line, Smithfield
Historic Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering
Architect, builder, or engineer: Rand,William
Architectural Style: Georgian, Romanesque, Federal
Area of Significance: Community Planning And Development, Commerce, Military, Architecture, Social History
Period of Significance: 1750-1924
Owner: Private , Local Gov't
Fondest memory: We took a walking tour - actually Bob drove around and I snapped pictures out of the window using the map I got at the visitor's center (see Local Customs tips)
You can also do the tour through narration via audio cassette (minimal fee). Alternatively, for groups, meet our guide(s) at the Visitor Center to begin your tour of Historic Smithfield, Virginia. Stroll along Main and Church Streets and observe the over 60 Colonial, Federal and Victorian homes as you learn of Smithfield's history of the ham as well as its significant role in Virginia's and America's History.
Not available Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, Christmas Eve, or New Year's Day.
Hours: Opens: 9:00 AM Closes: 5:00 PM
Take a leisurely walk along the main street (it's not very long) and browse in the antique and art shops.
Fondest memory: Finding candy not seen since childhood at Grampy's candy store. Sweet! Here is my niece (and my sister) outside Grampy's. Don't miss this place; you can buy anything, from fancy chocolates to gummy Coke bottles to those wear 'em & eat 'em candy necklaces, a piece--or a pound--at a time.