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Drying of Foods
In prehistoric times, the only method known for preserving meat was to dry it; this process is still used - as in Spain"s Jamon Serrano, a sun-dried mountain ham; Switzerland"s Viande Sechée, which is beef or pork dried in airy Alpine barns; and the crisp air of the Grisons where Bindnerfleisch, a thin-sliced sun-cured meat, is a speciality.
American Indians dried some of their buffalo meat by cutting it into wide slices, and drying it in the sun and wind. The early settlers of te West called this meat "jerky", from the Spanish charqui or charki, a word derived in turn from a South American Indian term for dried strips and slices of meat which in Mexico are called tasayo.
The Indians also packed meat in holes in the ground, which they lined with dry grass and covered with branches and earth, a practice still followed in parts of South America.
Beef jerky, despite its leathery texture, has become a popular snack food in the U.S.A. - with retail sales of well over