Songdog e-mailed: “I noticed ‘Soupy’ on the specials menu at our regular Westerly, RI post-beach dinner stop […] and wasn’t at all sure what it was other than some kind of cured meat.” A little googling turned up this, which of course he passed on to me:

Westerly, RI and the surrounding areas are the only places that it is called “SOUPY” or “SUPRI”. The residents here consider the town of Westerly to be the “SUPRI” capitol of the country, each year in our small town there are tens of thousands of pounds of this flavorful sausage made by individuals in their own homes. This dry cured sausage is a byproduct of Italians from the region of Cosenza, in Calabria, Italy, it is a small town in southern Italy, and Westerly RI is made up largely of descendants from this region of Italy and to this day they carry on the tradition of their forefathers in the making of Bread, Wine, Sopressata and Cheeses. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Westerly and someone offers you a taste of their Sopressata try it, you will be glad you did. Everyone in town that makes Sopressata will tell you the same thing that theirs is the very best!

I love that kind of local lingo, and the sausage sounds delicious. Anybody know anything about the Italian origins of the word?


  1. I assume it’s simply short for sopressata. Among other differences, Southern Italian dialects tended to use -oo- where standard (more-or-less Tuscan) Italian has -o- and this trait persists in some words used by modern Italian-Americans. You can hear it in other food words – “mootz” for mozzerella, “gabagool” for capicola, “pasta fazool” for pasta e fagioli.

  2. John Cowan – thanks for the link! – I should have remembered it as I commented on it – and the post that is linked in the link is also worthwhile:
    So many people who know so much more interesting stuff than I do! It’s a wonder I don’t keep my mouth shut once in a while.

  3. It’s only because we say things that are wrong that we bring people out of the woodwork who can correct us. It’s much better, as David Hume had it, to become right than to have been right in the first place.

  4. Cunningham’s law: “The best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.”

  5. “This dry cured sausage is a byproduct of Italians ”

    How did they ever get that past the FDA?

    ” Anybody know anything about the Italian origins of the word?”

    If it’s anything like the origins of “cioppino”, this will be good.

  6. David Marjanović says

    In the spirit of Cunningham’s law, it’s mozzarella.

  7. David Marjanović – taken in the spirit in which it’s offered.

  8. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    As Bloix says, a Google search immediately confirms it’s suprissata or even suppizzata in Calabrian, although soppressata or sopressata in Italian. Also soprassata in Tuscan, hence also in Italian at least for for the Tuscan variety, which is however a very different kind from the southern ones. The Balearic sobrassada is another very different kind. Wikipedia suggests the latter is the ancestor of the French-Algerian soubressade, which however has evolved into yet another product.

    Everyone seems to agree all these pork sausages are related. Italian sources list no conclusive etymology. Soppressata is a regular past participle of soppressare, an uncommon verb meaning to press or keep pressed. But that’s probably a respelling regularization rather than the origin. A common conjecture is that so- may reflect salt. The Treccani dictionary mentions a possible Provençal antecedent.

  9. marie-lucie says

    the French-Algerian soubressade

    After the conquest of Algeria (1831), the French government sought to attract colonists to practice agriculture. While many French people did migrate, especially from Southern France, there were other waves of colonization from Italy and Spain, members of which were also considered as French. It is not surprising then that words from Occitan (here “Provençal”), Italian and Spanish (including dialects) should have entered the local French vocabulary with minimal phonological adaptation.

    A common conjecture is that so- may reflect salt.

    I am skeptical. In all these languages the word for “salt” is based on the root sal, evolved into sau before a consonant in French (as in sausage, from Fr saucisse ‘sausage (needs cooking)’, saucisson ‘dry sausage, salami’) but not in Occitan (e.g. salchichon)l. The French and Occitan words for sausages are quite different in structure from the soupy ones, with their sobr-, supr- etc initial. Etienne may have more to say on the topic.

  10. there were other waves of colonization from Italy and Spain, members of which were also considered as French

    How exceedingly Napoleonic of the French Government.

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