That's what I thought before the great Taylor ham debacle.
Ivan and I had built up quite an appetite during our visits to Hollybush and Glassboro WMA, so when we found a decent-sized diner in Mullica Hill, we headed in, sat at the counter and ordered. Having only some fruit before we'd left the house around 5:30 a.m., I figured I'd get a substantial breakfast at midday: two scrambled eggs with toast and home fries, plus a side of Taylor ham. I'd seen pork roll listed as an option, and my brain automatically translated it to Mr. Taylor's spiced pork product. I didn't even think about it.
|Taylor ham: the disputed pork product.|
...until she shows up with my eggs with toast and home fries on a platter, and a slab of ham on a small plate.
"Uh, I asked for Taylor ham," I said, courteously but obviously not pleased.
"This is the only kind of ham we have," she said, equally as politely.
"Taylor ham," I insisted. "I saw it on the menu." Then the light switch went on in my head. Ohhhhhhhh! "Pork roll," I clarified.
We were in South Jersey, but I never, ever thought I'd have to explain Taylor ham to a diner waitress anywhere in New Jersey. She confessed that she'd thought I was looking for a particular brand of ham, so she hadn't asked for clarification. I guess she figured I wouldn't know the difference, but we weren't talking Hormel vs. Shop Rite here.
|State Senator John Taylor: |
inventor of the cornerstone
of the Jersey Breakfast
I checked a nearby menu and confirmed my error: they offered pork roll, not Taylor ham. So, yeah, it was my bad, but really, isn't it reasonable to expect that a diner employee would have heard of Taylor ham, no matter where she lived in the state?
The famed North/South Jersey researcher Steve Chernoski addressed the pork roll debate in his blog, Where is the Line Between North and South Jersey. According to his research, "Taylor ham" is a term used only in seven and a half counties (with Warren suffering the split) on the northern end of the state, with my home county of Union being the southernmost. I could swear I used to enjoy Taylor ham and cheese sandwiches at the Cook College student center in New Brunswick, but they might have split the difference and called it Taylor pork roll.
I guess I'm going to have to concede this one. And read diner menus a lot more carefully from now on.