Smoked meat

Smoked meat

Smoked meat is a method of preparing fish and red meat which originates in prehistory. Its purpose is to preserve these protein rich foods, which would otherwise spoil quickly, for long periods of possibly lean times. There are two mechanisms for this preservation: dehydration and the antibacterial properties of absorbed smoke. In modern days, the enhanced flavor of smoked foods make it a delicacy in many cultures.


Smoking of meat and fish has been practiced for ages. Indigenous cultures around the world may have used smoke during the drying of fish to drive away the flies. They soon found that the absorbed smoke acted as a preservative. Perhaps the most famous "smokers of meat" were the Caribbean natives who smoked it on a rack over a smoky fire, a setup they called "barbacoa" (one possible etymological origin of barbecue).

Famous among early smokers of meat are the Ashkenazi Jewish communities in Europe, and is often associated with other foods popularized by Jewish communities, such as bagels. In North America, outside of Montreal, "Montreal smoked meat" is referred to as pastrami which is derived from the _yi. פא סטראמע (pronounced "pastrómeh"). However, lovers of Montreal Smoked Meat vociferously argue that the consistency, flavoring, seasoning and color of pastrami differs significantly from that of smoked meat. Montreal smoked meat comes in two flavors-"old fashioned" which is a process where the meat is naturally aged or cured and "regular" a process whereby additives are used to age the meat. Generally, those who have tested traditional "New York Deli" pastrami agree that it is similar, but not identical, to Montreal Smoked Meat. Both the dish and the word were brought to North America with the wave of Jewish immigration from Bessarabia and Romania in the second half of the 19th century; it is similar to roast brisket, a signature dish of the local Jewish cuisine of these regions. Smoked meat, also known as salt beef in London, is cured, spiced, and flavoured in ways similar to corned beef. Difference in meat cut and spicing mean that smoked meat's taste is different from either of these, and even varies among recipes.


Along with bagels, smoked meat has been popular in Montreal since the nineteenth century, and has taken such strong root in that city that many Montrealers, and even many non-Montrealers, identify it as emblematic of the city's cuisine. Current and former residents and tourists make a point of visiting Montreal's best-known smoked meat establishments (Schwartz's, Reuben's, Dunn's, Jarry Smoked Meat, Lester's, Abie's Smoked Meat, Chenoy's, Pete's Smoked Meat, the Main Deli, the Snowdon Deli, and Stanley Diner; formerly Ben's Deli, a Montreal institution for 98 years which closed in late 2006), even taking whole briskets away as take-out. Despite the food's origins in, and association with, Montreal's Jewish community, and contrary to what is sometimes asserted, these delis are not certified as kosher.Fact|date=June 2007

Beyond the delis listed here, smoked meat, (French: "sandwich à la viande fumée" or "smoked-meat" [] ), is offered in many Montreal diners and fast food chains. Smoked meat has become popularized beyond its Jewish origins into the general population of Quebec, where smoked meat has been integrated into popular dishes, such as, for example, "smoked meat poutine."

Smoked meat can similarly be found across Canada, although proponents of Montreal's smoked meat claim that it cannot be obtained in its tastiest, or most authentic form, outside of Montreal. Several restaurateurs have offered to franchise Schwartz's in cities across North America. Its owners, however, have always refused; but do deliver by mail-order, though not at present outside of Canada.

ee also

* Montreal-style bagel
* Deli meat

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