Living in Hampton Roads, the words “Smithfield ham” worked like a Pavlovian bell…our family immediately started salivating over some salty goodness! Smithfield hams are, by law (really), only produced in Smithfield, Va. from peanut fed hogs.
The town is about an hour from our home in Chesapeake, so we set out for a day trip. What used to be a country drive is now often going through shopping centers that could be Anywhere, USA, but once you hit the downtown historic district, you know you’re in a real small town.
Main Street Smithfield is full of shops and several museums. But first we stopped at the Taste of Smithfield for lunch, so we could get a ham biscuit. It was as good as we always remembered.
One attraction we found interesting is the old courthouse. Once it was no longer in use as a courthouse, someone built a house around it. When the house was in disrepair, it was removed and most of the original courthouse structure reappeared! It’s now a good example of what a country courthouse looked like.
Smithfield is in Isle of Wight County, which has an interesting history of its own. Its original name was Warrosquyoke County, after the Native American tribe that lived there. That seemed too hard to pronounce so it was changed to Isle of Wight, after a British island. The Isle of Wight County Museum is located on Main Street. It is home to the largest ham and oldest peanut known to exist. Who knew?
Nearby is the town of Surry, Va., home to another famous ham maker, Edwards Ham.
We stopped by and picked up some country ham, but not Smithfield ham. Still very tasty. There’s not much else to Surry, but Bacon’s Castle is a good historical attraction, which we’ll save for another post.
We made dinner that evening of home made biscuits and Edwards country ham. Yum!