Bacon & the Art of Living

The Story

The story of the development of bacon curing technology merged with the present-day account of friends setting up a bacon plant in Cape Town.   I decided to use selected events from the story of our bacon company, re-cast them in the late 1800s and early 1900s and tell the story of the creation of bacon.

The historical setting is the time when modern meat curing was born in Denmark, England, Germany, and the USA.  It is also the time when the South African meat industry came of age under the leadership of David de Villiers-Graaff.  Besides these, the culture at the Cape, as it is today, was fascinating.  Life was vibrant and political currents, foundational to understand present-day South Africa.

Every effort has been made to ensure that all references to people and events from the 1800s, 1900s, and 2000s are actual and historically accurate.  Any misrepresentation is my own fault and will be rectified if such errors are pointed out. Please mail me with factual errors at  Lauren, my daughter is working through it, proofreading the work.

I am currently re-writing this in its entirety. For the sake of collaboration, I keep other chapters “published.”

Eben van Tonder
Cape Town



Chapter 1:  Once Upon a Time in Cape Town

Chapter 2:  Dry Cured Bacon

Chapter 3:  Kolbroek

Chapter 4: The Shambles

Chapter 5:  Seeds of War

Chapter 6:  The Greatest Adventure

Chapter 7:  Woodys Bacon

Chapter 8.00:  The Denmark Letters

->  Chapter 8.01  Mild Cured Bacon

->  Chapter 8.02 The Danish Cooperative and Saltpeter

->  Chapter 8.03 Minette, the Cape Slaves, the Witels and Nitrogen

->  Chapter 8.04 The Saltpeter Letter

->  Chapter 8.05 The Polenski Letter

->  Chapter 8.06 From the Sea to Turpan

->  Chapter 8.07 Lauren Learns the Nitrogen Cycle

->  Chapter 8.08 Von Liebig and Gerard Mulder’s Theory of Proteins

->  Chapter 8.09 David Graaff’s Armour – A Tale of Two Legends

Chapter 9.00: The UK Letters

->  Chapter 9.01: Lord Landsdown

->  Chapter 9.02: Sweet Cured Irish and Wiltshire Pork

Chapter 99:  The Art of Living

In chapter 99 I write about family and the many great experiences we had as part of “the art of living.”  Most of these experiences make it into the main body of the work.

The rest is being re-written.



(c) eben van tonder

Bacon & the Art of Living” in book form

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Photo credit

All photos on this page by the creative team of our company under the leadership of Willem Klynveld.


7 thoughts on “Bacon & the Art of Living

  1. The Wiltshire Baskerville and Caswell families were since the 1300s landowner neighbors in Yatesbury and Winterbourne Bassett, and ran in high circles, (Sheriff of Wiltshire, Rectors of Witney etc.) They were, I believe, also neighbors in the USA Virginias, owning plantations etc.

    About 1760 William Baskerville and his wife Mary Hardy were in Tipperary Ireland, as was the Wiltshire Caswell family. Both families were wealthy and land owners. I think they were a driving force in the export of pigs from Ireland.
    Cork was the port where pigs were shipped to Bristol, and then driven through Wiltshire (Calne) toward London. Harris of Calne was established in 1770 by the widow Sarah Harris. It wasn’t until 1848 when George Harris visited New York, that the Wiltshire mild cure was discovered in Schenectady.

    I think the Irish Oake business probably obtained the Mild Cure process from the Americans, as did the Harris company, and did not invent the process.


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