Page: What is spanspek?

1. Blog of David Rodger, sound production teacher and wanna-be PHP developer; 2. Spanish bacon; or... According to a number of on-line sources (Encarta, About, etc.), spanpsek is a melon widely grown in Southern Africa. That name is used in South Africa and if you call it canteloupe or anything else while there most people will not understand what you mean. South Africa's spanspek is vastly superior to any equivalent elsewhere. In this respect it's rather like Swedish strawberries (the commercially cultivated jordgubbe, not the wild smultron). The purpose of this page is actually not to demonstrate how widely travelled or knowledgable I am (I'm neither). If you were wondering what spanspek is, now you know and it may or may not interest you to know that I just liked the name and was delighted to find the domain name available. When my registrar had a 99 cent special on domain name registrations, I jumped at it. If you think blogging is just an extremely accessible form of vanity publishing, you're probably right. But everyone else is doing it, so I thought I might too. I'd like to write about a few things I'm interested in, like sound production and web development. The latter includes my impressions of this software, Habari, and notes about using the konstrukt framework of which lately I have become a bit of a fan. We'll see where it goes. Amazingly, the previous version of the site (a front page with a picture of spanspek) made it on the first search page in Google and this site remains there (so far).

7 Responses to What is spanspek?

  1. 4235 Jay 2010-10-04 14:33:59

    Juana Maria de los Dolores de Léon Smith was born 27th March 1798 into a noble Spanish family. Her great-grandfather was Juan Ponce de Léon, who was the first to explore Florida while searching for the Fountain of Youth.

    At the age of 14, in 1812, Juana and her sister were orphaned during the Peninsular War when British troops besieged her native town in the Third Siege of Badajoz. British officers, encamped outside the walls of the city, gave the sisters protection from the sacking and looting that followed the successful assault. One of them was Capt. Harry Smith, of the 95th Rifles Regiment, who married her a few days later and eventually became Brigadier-General Sir Harry Smith.

    Rather than going to live with her new husband’s family, she chose to accompany him during the rest of the war. She travelled with the luggage train, sleeping on the battlefield, walking beside the troops and sharing the deprivations of the campaign. The soldiers idolised her for her beauty, courage, amiable character and good judgment. She was admired by the officers including the Duke of Wellington, who knew her well.

    With the exception of the Anglo-American War of 1812, Juana accompanied her husband to all his postings, the most noteworthy of which was South Africa where Sir Harry served as Governor and High Commissioner of the Cape Colony.

    The Governor enjoyed bacon with his breakfast but Juana Smith preferred cantaloupe. The Afrikaans chefs jokingly referred to the melon they served her as Spanish bacon or, in Afrikaans, Spaanse spek. Cantaloupe is known to this day in South Africa as spanspek.

  2. 4245 David 2010-10-04 21:38:00

    That's a great story. Thanks a lot.

  3. 18841 Robbs 2011-12-16 19:48:52

    Oh my word, true story? I love it, totally telling it
    Thanks :)

  4. 18842 David 2011-12-18 00:17:09

    Not my story! Thanks to Jay.

  5. 18844 Andrew 2012-04-10 05:57:06

    This is a little piece of trivia that very few South Africans actually know. It's allways a story that gets a chuckle at a dinner table.... thanks for the info.

  6. 18859 Erik 2013-04-20 03:54:04

    I absolutely love spanspek and find it so refreshing. We peel and cut it in chunks and keep in a dish in the fridge then help ourselves to a chunk or two when we feel like it.
    I was wondering though, they make amarula drinks, and litchi drinks and I reckon a spanspek drink would be a killer if they could get the taste just right!

  7. 18921 Maria 2014-07-15 05:40:42

    Nice story but not quite factual.

    Neither Harry Smith nor Lady Smith had anything to do with the naming of the spanspek. The fact is that the date of the fruit’s transliterated naming from jamon iberico, “spanish bacon”, precedes the Smiths’ life in the Natal (1828) and Cape Colonies (1847).

    The name probably originated from early 17th Century Dutch possibly via the Dutch colony of Suriname.

    The oldest etymological reference to spanspek is from 1770 by J. van Donselaar (1989) in the Suriname-Dutch Dictionary.
    “Spaansch-spek is de naam voor in Suriname voorkomende vorm die wegens de dikke schil en het weinige vruchtvleesch zich veel minder tot consumptie leent. (Enc.NWI 250). - Etym.: Oudste vindpl. Hartsinck 1770: 62. Ook gebr. in Zuid-Afrika (WNT 1936). Spanspeki.
    [Translated: “Spaansch-spek is the name for the form that grows in Suriname which, because of its thick skin and little flesh, is less consumed.
    Etymology: Oldest find, Hartsinck 1770: 62. <<snip>>”

    Incidentally, Wikipedia mentions the false claim of Lady Smith's connection with the spanspek story, and provides the following: “Lady Smith is sometimes said to have introduced the cantaloupe or muskmelon (Cucumis melo cantalupensis) to South Africa, where it is known as spanspek (or spanspec or sponspe(c)k), which in Afrikaans literally means 'Spanish bacon' (Spaanse spek).

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