Ask someone if they know what a cantaloupe is. Go on, ask. You will quickly find out that Spanspek is rarely known by its international name.
The spanspek, as known as a sweet melon, cantaloupe or even mush melon around the world is said to be far superior in flavour from South Africa.
But how did it get its interesting local name? Apparently, it stems back to Sir Henry Smith (known as Harry), a governor of the Cape Province and his lovely, much-loved Spanish wife; Lady Juana Smith. It was said they enjoyed great popularity among the Boers as well as the Xhosa people of the time. You might recognise their names from the towns; Ladysmith and Harrismith in KZN and the Free State respectively.
The story goes that Sir Harry used to enjoy bacon and eggs in the morning, while Lady Juana preferred the sweet, fresh flavours of cantaloupe. This preference from the Spanish lady led to the cantaloupe being called “Spaanse spek” (Spanish bacon).
And that is how the Spanspek got its name!
Source: Godwana Collections