Bath Chap

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Bath chap the lower (or sometimes the upper) jaw bone of a pig, with attached cheek, brined (and in the past also dried), cooked, and often pressed in a mould. In appearance a Bath chap is like a cone cut in half vertically; the curved upper surface being covered with light brown or orange breadcrumbs and the interior being streaky with pink lean and white fat in layers. Bath chaps are often eaten cold, a tasty dish.

The word ‘chap’ is simply a variant on ‘chop’, which in the 16th century meant the jaws and cheeks of an animal. These are probably what Mrs raffald (1782) intended when she gave a recipe ‘To salt chops’ with salt, saltpetre, bay salt, and brown sugar. This called for the meat to be dried afterwards; it would probably be expected to keep for several months. Law’s Grocer’s Manual (c.1895) notes that both the upper and lower jaws were used, the lower one which was meatier and contained the tongue selling at about twice the price of the upper.