For centuries now the word for “sandwich” or “slice of bread” in Dutch is “boterham”.
“boter” = butter
“ham” = ham
It doesn’t need butter nor ham to be called “boterhammen”:
These “boterhammen” have no butter, no ham and no trace of our word for bread, “brood”.
Nobody knows where the word “boterham” originates from. And why there are two distinctive foods in there but no wheaty product.
There are a few theories.
Everybody pretty much agrees the “boter” must be the butter.
But “ham”, well that must be something else, it just can’t be pig’s behind, can it. Maybe “homp” meaning lump? Or from “inham” meaning bay-possibly-quite-sharply-cut-Norwegian-fjord-sort-of-bay?
“Inham” is also what you call the spaces occurring in a receding hairline… A “boterham” coming from these origins would indicate a coarse cut piece of bread perhaps? With few hairs on it.
Kind of a stretch, of you ask me. Why not go with the obvious “ham” = ham.
I like to think that the Dutch were keto-smart from an early age: bread is nothing but an edible plate to transfer your butter and your ham to your mouth!
Pretty soon people started to eat their plate. Got to fancy it up. But they couldn’t be bothered to think up an original name for it unlike the Spanish did with their tapas.
Don’t you get fooled by the fluffy gluten!
Nor your biological predisposition to carb addiction, eating is all about the ham and the butter!
I’d love to find out how long the word “ham” has been used for pig’s meat. I cannot find it easily though. I do know we have various dialects across the country, some calling “ham” quite different (“hesp”, “sjink”).
PS. EMPTY BOTERHAM
Guess how we call a slice of bread without anything on it?
“Een boterham met tevredenheid”
A slice of bread with contentment…
The ham in “boterham” precedes the meaty interpretation of ham in “hamburger”. The ham in hamburger came about when Germans brought their Hamburger beefsteak over to America at the end of the 19th century which then got changed into “hamburger”, “burgers”, “cheeseburger” and -back to Dutch- into “kaasburger.”
pic by Andrea Mukka
Might the ham in Hamburg – the German city- give any clues?
“Burg” means fortification, akin to the word borrough (going into the word neighbourhood, neighbours. Which has the Danish word “bo” in it, living. The Joneses are your “nearby living-ers”. And of course, “burger” means citizen. It’s all so logical!)(Receding hairlines in bread are not logical.)
Anyway, a city with “burg” in its name is usually named for something in the vicinity or something of importance. Perhaps a sows market for Hamburg?
“The name Hamburg comes from the first permanent building on the site, a castle which the Emperor Charlemagne ordered constructed in AD 808. It rose on rocky terrain in a marsh between the River Alster and the River Elbe as a defence against Slavic incursion, and acquired the name Hammaburg, burg meaning castle or fort. The origin of the Hamma term remains uncertain, as does the exact location of the castle.”
Nah… the ham remains illusive in the beautiful city of:
other pictures by Tinpalace and Chidsey and Wikipedia.