Speck is an English word meaning "fat", attested since the early 17th century.[1] This word also exists in German with the same meaning, but it normally refers to pork fat with or without some meat in it. Normal English use refers to German culinary uses, particularly of smoked or pickled pork belly. In Dutch, spek is a generic term for bacon/lard.

In Italy, Turkey and parts of the English-speaking culinary world, the term "speck" refers to Italian speck, a type of prosciutto,[2] rather than German speck. The term "speck" became part of popular parlance only in the eighteenth century and replaced the older term "bachen", a cognate of "bacon".[citation needed]

Regional varieties

There are a number of regional varieties of speck, including:

  • Bacon, e.g. Frühstücksspeck ("breakfast speck") in Germany
  • Gailtaler speck from Austria, with PGI status, which has been made since the 15th century in the Gail Valley ("Gailtal") in Carinthia[3]
  • Guanciale, from Italy
  • Lardo, from Italy, with many sub-varieties
  • Pancetta, from Italy
  • Schinkenspeck, German "ham bacon", typically made from a flat cut of ham with fat along one side resembling bacon, and traditionally soaked for several days in a brine with juniper berries and peppercorn,
  • Speck Sauris PGI, from Sauris, near Friuli
  • Speck Alto Adige PGI, the Italian speck
  • Tyrolean Speck from Austria's Tyrol region, which has PGI status, and has been made since at least the 15th century[4]
  • Ukrainian salo

Use in the figurative sense

In German, typesetters (and publishers) use(d) the word "speck" traditionally for easily made manuscripts, which have a lot of preset text or large pictures.[5]

Hamburger Speck is a candy found in Hamburg whose name derives from its similar appearance to speck.

Jewish deli speck

In Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine, in which bacon is forbidden as a unkosher pork, "speck" commonly refers to the subcutaneous fat on a brisket of beef; it is a particular specialty of delis serving Montreal-style smoked meat, where slices of the fatty cut are served in sandwiches on rye bread with mustard, sometimes in combination with other, leaner cuts.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  2. ^ Speck - Smoked Prosciutto (Mario Batali)-Dead link-
  3. ^ Lebensmittelnet.at - Gailtaler Speck (accessed 09/Jan/2008)
  4. ^ Austria Tourist Info - Tirol(German) (accessed 09/Jan/2008)
  5. ^ Alexander Waldow: Illustrierte Encyklopädie der graphischen Künste und der verwandten Zweige. Saur, (Leipzig 1884) reprint München u.a. 1993, ISBN 3-598-07250-3.
  6. ^ A Mission To Save Real Jewish Delis, A Dying Breed : NPR