biltong, noun

Forms:
α. billtong, bill-tongueShow more billtong, bill-tongue, bill-tung, biltong, biltongue;
β. belltong, beltingShow more belltong, belting, beltong, beltongue, bel tong, bel tongue;
γ. bultong, bültong.
Origin:
South African Dutch, DutchShow more South African Dutch, from Dutch bil buttock, rump (from which the meat is often taken) + tong tongue (referring to the long, narrow shape of the strips of meat).
1. Salted dried meat in strips, usually lean beef, venison, or ostrich-meat, but sometimes other game, or fish; tassal sense a. Also attributive, and transferred sense. See also bokkem.
Note:
Usually noncount, but see α quotation 1890, and γ quotation 1883.
α.
1815 A. Plumptre tr. of H. Lichtenstein’s Trav. in Sn Afr. (1930) II. 77He lived almost entirely upon dried mutton and biltong.
1827 T. Philipps Scenes & Occurrences 213The remainder of the beams were tastefully festooned with..long strips of bill tongue, that is, narrow slices of beef salted and dried in the sun.
1832 Graham’s Town Jrnl 25 Oct. 170Jan Aron, alias Jan Bastaard: Storebreaking, with intent to Steal; and Theft, in stealing 8 lbs of soap, 8 pieces of Biltong, and 200 dried Peaches.
1855 J.W. Colenso Ten Weeks in Natal 161I found the house..hardly endurable..from the quantity of fresh biltong, or flesh cut off in strips from an animal...The pieces of raw meat were hung up inside in the open roof to dry.
1875 J.J. Bisset Sport & War 13I saw Englishmen buying pieces of biltong from the Dutch about the size of your thumb for half a crown, and it made a very good meal for the day.
1890 A.G. Hewitt Cape Cookery 42To Cure Biltong. Have the biltongs cut at the butchers as he knows the best pieces for the purpose; they are cut from the shoulder and should weigh 3 or 4 lbs.
1891 H.J. Duckitt Hilda’s ‘Where Is It?’ 11‘Biltong.’ (An old Cape way of curing and drying meat.)
1903 R. Kipling Five Nations 201Ah there, Piet! — be’ind ‘is stony kop, With “is Boer bread an” biltong, an’ ’is flask of awful Dop.
1920 F.C. Cornell Glamour of Prospecting 30We had good horses and travelled light, with a few roster-kooks and some biltong, by way of provisions.
1920 F.C. Cornell Glamour of Prospecting 132The heat..seemed to be drying the very blood up in our veins, and converting us into biltong.
1943 D. Reitz No Outspan 83Baas, baas, the old missus says you must come at once, someone has stolen all the biltong (dried meat) from the clothesline in the back yard.
1950 H. Gerber Cape Cookery 95Biltong. Cut the meat into strips and rub it with salt. Allow it to lie for 2 to 3 days in a basin, placed in a cool spot. After 3 days salt the meat once more and brush off all surplus salt. Hang it up in a shady place to dry.
1971 Sunday Times 14 Nov. (Mag. Sect.) 7‘Jake’ Jacobs himself..emerges as a biltong-tough natural leader with inherent sensitivity.
1973 Weekend Post 14 Apr. 3The word ‘biltong’ was becoming part of the Hebrew language. Former South Africans living in Israel are believed to have encouraged the introduction of biltong to Israel.
1974 E. Prov. Herald 27 Feb. 5An ambitious scheme..is aimed at putting an end to the large scale dumping of bananas in years of over-production — by turning the fruit into a form of ‘biltong’.
1983 D.A.C. Maclennan Reckonings 17You licked your lips in the biltong weather.
1986 E. Prov. Herald 14 June 5That is the biltong party. They are busy drying out like a piece of biltong. Parliament must adjourn so that the members on the other side of the House can go hunting.
1989 P. Lee in Sunday Times 22 Jan. (Mag. Sect.) 45He normally sports a beer boep, has a beer can clutched firmly in his hot sweaty hand, carries a cooler-box jammed with carry-packs and biltong.
1991 Leisure Bks Catal. Apr.June 19Recipes are included, such as biltong quiche, biltong potbread,..Traditional SA fare at its very best.
β.
a1827 D. Carmichael in W.J. Hooker Botanical Misc. (1831) II. 273In lieu of bread, they sometimes use the flesh of various animals, salted and dried in the sun...Which they call ‘Belltong’.
1849 N.J. Merriman Cape Jrnls (1957) 66Had it not been..for the Beltongue sandwiches.., I should have suffered both from hunger and thirst before reaching Graaff Reinet.
1860 A.W. Drayson Sporting Scenes 144We..had a little beltong meat dried in the sun for supper.
a1868 J. Ayliff Jrnl of ‘Harry Hastings’ (1963) 98After a good supper of dried meat which they call ‘beltong’ and milk, we lay ourselves down.
1872 C.A. Payton Diamond Diggings 153I must not forget to mention a favourite food of the Boers — ‘beltongue’ or jerked meat — the flesh of springbuck, blesbuck, wildebeest, and other large game, cut into thick strips, and dried in the sun by hunters who are too far from the markets to bring in the game fresh.
1884 B. Adams Narr. (1941) 107A good supply of Bel Tongue and bread was set before us...Bel Tong..is seldom found in the houses of Englishmen. It is made from beef..cut into long strips and dried.
1892 W.L. Distant Naturalist in Tvl 32In a campaign he only requires some dried meat — beltong — attached to his saddle, and a bottle of hollands or water.
1898 G. Nicholson 50 Yrs 251Their favourite ‘naama’ (meat), with which the trees and bushes around were festooned in strips, in process of becoming ‘belting’ in the dry and fervid atmosphere.
γ.
1883 O.E.A. Schreiner Story of Afr. Farm 86Did not Tant’ Sannie keep in the loft ‘bultongs’ and nice smoked sausages?
1883 O.E.A. Schreiner Story of Afr. Farm 100I was older than you when I used to eat ‘bultong’ in my mother’s loft.
1897 H.A. Bryden Nature & SportThe flesh of the hartebeest is fairly palatable, darkish in colour and makes good bültong (sundried flesh), though not so good as the bültong of springbok or koodoo.
1914 W.C. Scully Lodges in Wilderness 48We cut up and salted the meat preparatory to its being packed together and rolled in sacking. Next day it would be hung out on lines to dry into ‘bultong’.
1961 D. Bee Children of Yesterday 16He was eating a piece of sun-dried ostrich meat, known as bultong.
2. combinations
biltong curtain [by analogy with English Iron Curtain], a jocular name for the borders of South Africa;
biltong farmer, biltong hunter, biltong jackal, one who hunts game in order to obtain meat for the making of biltong.
1979 Daily Dispatch 12 May 6The China Syndrome..is more than..simple-minded entertainment. The subject is a hot one beyond this biltong curtain.
1949 L.G. Green In Land of Afternoon 66In 1937 it became illegal to sell game biltong in the Cape Province...The ban..slowed up a slaughter which had been in progress ever since the modern rifle reached South Africa. It put the ‘biltong farmer’ also known as the ‘biltong jackal’ out of business.
1937 C. Birkby Zulu Journey 110The year before last 150 shooting licences were given to the ‘biltong hunters’.
1939 H. Klein in Outspan 3 Nov. 25He was one of the old-time professional biltong hunters, who lived for the three short winter months when..he could roam the plains shooting for lion pelts and biltong.
1971 H. Zeederberg Veld Express 74We call this part of the country the ‘Springbok Flats’. Twenty years ago, heads of three to four hundred were quite common, and it is still a paradise for biltong hunters.
1949biltong jackal: [see quot. above].
Salted dried meat in strips, usually lean beef, venison, or ostrich-meat, but sometimes other game, or fish; tassala. Also attributive, and transferred sense.

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18151991