There are certain foods that clearly define the state of New Jersey. I grew up on Long Island and at our deli counters there was this meat in the deli case covered in burlap and in red lettering it said, “Taylor Ham.”
I just assumed it was like most hams offered at the deli counter, but I never bothered ordering it because I was stuck on the favorite types of I grew up with, like Virginia Ham, Black Forest Ham, Boiled ham…etc.
I moved to Monmouth County New Jersey back in 1996 for a new job at a brand new radio station called The WRAT, and all I heard around the office while people were ordering breakfast was this mysterious meat product called “Pork Roll.”
My new co-worker, Maryann, immediately gave me a good old fashioned New Jersey education on how to order a breakfast sandwich in this part of the Garden State.
She said, “Next time you get a breakfast sandwich, you ask for pork roll, egg, and cheese on a hard roll with salt, pepper, ketchup.” Or the abbreviated version: PEC SPK. I caught on rather quickly.
This sliceable slab of meat is made with pork, sugar, all kinds of spices, and then smoked and processed and ready for the masses to consume.
I remember one of our first outings in Monmouth County to grab the office peeps their breakfast order at the local deli- bagel place up the road.
We walked in, and when I saw the “pork roll” in the burlap bag in the glass case, I said, “Oh, that’s Taylor Ham, I’ve seen that back home in New York.” She hushed me up fast and said sternly, “NO, it’s pork roll, not Taylor Ham.”
Now here we are 27 years later. Maryann has moved on and I still live here in New Jersey, and I am still eating PORK ROLL.
I’m not looking to start a Civil War between the North Jersey and the South Jersey folks on what to call this controversial meat product, I’m just offering to tip you off to a bunch of places suggested by the pork roll loving people on my favorite food sites, pages, and message boards
Let’s see where these folks suggest we go for a delicious pork roll breakfast sandwich in Monmouth and Ocean County.