No other meat has as many preparations as Pork - you have Bresaola out of beef, and I've seen the odd artisanal lamb and venison product, but why do you not get the range of hams, sausages, bacons etc out of other meats? I'm guessing something to do with the stability of the fat - but I'm not sure.

  • How about corned beef or pastrami? Or salted cod, or lox?
    – Ray
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 13:39
  • This is an excellent question.
    – BobMcGee
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 14:05
  • Ray - Forgot about corned beef and pastrami. Still a small list compared to the world of pork related products though. Was thinking specifically about meat rather than fish - otherwise we would get into the whole wide world of smoked and dried fish products. Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 14:21
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    I would guess that it is a combination of animal cost, regional climate, and societal impact. A pig would be a lot of meat for a poorer family, so much of it would be cured so as not to waste it. Also, there may have been need for long term storage to weather winter months which might not be needed in other climates. In those climates where weather was less of an issue (Middle East/India), pork has not been as popular as say, lamb due to social/religious influence. Just speculation (and thus a comment and not answer)
    – DHayes
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 15:44

2 Answers 2


I suspect that this is because in Europe, the pig has been a fairly common household animal. For example, in the past in Poland, all families that didn't live in closely packed towns would have their own pigs. Some of the reasons for keeping pigs is that they don't need much room and can eat almost anything - you can easily feed them household scraps, or anything else you can find.

For most of history, pretty much everyone has been very poor. Thus, people need to keep an animal that can eat anything. For a pig you don't need to find grass or keep hay like you do for cows and sheep. And likewise you find a way to use every part of the animal no matter what. You also no doubt get a bit bored of pork all the time, so a variety of different methods of preparing and preserving would be developed.

So basically, I think the number of European preparations for pork is due to our long and close relationship with pigs due to their practical nature.

Further to support the idea that this has a Northern/Eastern/Western European cultural cause, Halal butchers will apparently sell beef bacon, and pastrami is traditionally beef, and comes from the Mediterranean area (more or less) so I suspect that there are simply a range of beef and perhaps lamb products that many Europeans either don't know about or don't consider as essential or main-stream.


You give three examples here: ham, sausages, bacon and I'm sure there are plenty of others from pork. But you can get a similar range from beef or venison/game meat.

I'm from South Africa and we have a traditional dish which is called boerewors which is sausage made from meat such as beef or game. We also have biltong which is a dried and cured meat also made from beef or game. The only one I can't match is bacon.

Also, carpaccio came to mind, but that is not cured or dried, just raw.

But to refer to the question, pork is not the only meat which can be cured.

  • While other meats can be cured - usually through dehydration, pickling or smoking - the sheer variety of cured pork in European and Asian cuisine dwarfs that of the other meats. The question isn't whether other animals can be tasty when preserved - but what makes pork so special that it so dominates charcuterie? Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 19:50
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    I think then that depends on the area that you are in and the history of that area. For example, an island nation might have plenty of ways to prepare fish and fewer ways to prepare meat if fish was more plentiful than meat. It might be that in your area that pork was at one point the most plentiful meat in the same way that in South Africa at one point cattle and game were the most plentiful. And then as a result more methods develop for preparation of that meat as a tradition than others.
    – Rachel
    Commented Aug 10, 2012 at 8:12

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