05 Jun2006

jamon1

The hams and sausages in Spain were overwhelming. Never have I been confronted with so much cured pig that I felt simultaneously elated and intimidated. I was sad that I didn’t have jamon2a month or two to taste perhaps 80-100 different items. I would have died from salt overload if I did – and my remains probably could have been sold as a cured meat. I am so envious. I did not get my fill. I still dream about all of the spectacular preserved meats and sausages that I saw, photographed and salivated over for days while in Barcelona. I got to taste several kinds of hams but nowhere near as many as I would have liked. We were continuing onto Italy as well so I didn’t get to bring any jamon home despite the vacuum packed legs that ranged from euro100 to Euro 500 for the finest jamons. Imagine a ham that costs about PHP30,000 for one shriveled up and salted leg?

What were they like? Brilliant. They were salty, flavorful, deep to deeper reds and burgundy in hue, fatty, delicious and memorable. You only need a few grams, a taste, or two or three. I used to like prosciutto and actually still do, but the Spanish hams have stolen my heart and taste buds. jamon3These are really something memorable and unique. What I would do for a week or two with a jamon expert who could take me through the different jamons. By region, by style, by pig or boar, by length of cure, amount and type of salt, by mountain or plain air, in caves, cellars or massive curing rooms. There is much written about the jamons of Spain and I think this article in the Washington Post says a lot of it better than I could ever write.

I have written about Spanish hams before. First there was the incredible Jamon Iberico that some Spanish diplomats and friends had sent over as a present. We had aiber1 had a wonderful dinner at their home once and they put out a platter of delicious Jamon Iberico that I must have practically drooled over, hence the gift a few weeks later when a fresh supply from Spain arrived. Then I wrote about a wonderful Jamon Serrano, an entire leg that was sent over for my birthday by generous friends and gourmands and which could easily have fed 50-70 people if my arm would hold up trying to slice it thinly enough… On this recent trip we tried the much ballyhooed Jamon Jabugo, a ham made from black hoofed pigs that eat only acorns and are cured with sea salt in the area of Jabugo (as opposed to the generalized Iberico nomenclature)…they were good to brilliant tasting and wickedly, wickedly expensive. Up to Euro 200 per kilo if already sliced up…

There were so many vendors and shops throughout Barcelona that sitting at one and ordering a few slices of perhaps 3-4 different hams was about the limit of a human’s salt intake. At any rate, I am honored to have had several kinds of jamons but hungry to go back for more. I have no idea jamon4why these hams wouldn’t be allowed into the U.S. by the Department of Agriculture…perhaps they are just jealous they have nothing good enough to compare it to. Really, now, if the entire European community can eat these without any apparent outbreaks of Jamonitis, it should be fine for Americans to consume. Actually, I am actually happy it isn’t exported to the U.S., since that leaves more for the rest of the world. I know I have one avid reader, fried neurons, who is chomping at the bit to try some Jamon Iberico, and all I can say is…book a flight to Spain, it’s really worth it!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Carlo says:

    If I had one last meal on earth, jamon iberico/jabugo would no doubt be in it. The best ones are just sublime.

    Jun 5, 2006 | 9:52 pm

     
  2. millet says:

    i wonder how high hypertension ranks among spain’s leading causes of morbidity and mortality? am just sour-graping,inggit lang, MM, ’cause i’m already drooling all over the place…

    Jun 5, 2006 | 10:27 pm

     
  3. juls says:

    were there blood sausages from extremadura also?

    Jun 5, 2006 | 11:33 pm

     
  4. juls says:

    were there blood sausages from extremadura also? morcilla they call it i think

    Jun 5, 2006 | 11:33 pm

     
  5. twisted diva says:

    were you able to try some chistorra? they’re chorizos from the Navarre region up north. bad for one’s cholesterol levels — therefore very, very good.

    Jun 6, 2006 | 2:26 am

     
  6. lojet says:

    Actually we can order some on line . Luckily, I don’t particularly like salty food but I would have liked to have a taste without spending so much $$$. How much is a bite? Or a lick?

    Jun 6, 2006 | 2:35 am

     
  7. lojet says:

    forgot to add the link: http://www.tienda.com/food/jamon.html

    Jun 6, 2006 | 2:36 am

     
  8. fried-neurons says:

    Tienda.com’s first deliveries of jamon iberico will be in 2008. I just rechecked the website… $139 a pound! Wowza!

    Jun 6, 2006 | 5:15 am

     
  9. Marketman says:

    Carlo, I’m with you on that. Millet, I think the pretty good red wine mitigates the effects…heehee. Juls, yup, lots of morcilla and other interesting sausages. Twisted Diva, not sure if I tried those but I did have superb chorizos from Jabugo (in addition to the hams!) that were chock full of fat. Lojet, yes, I have seen the La Tienda site and if you just have a few slices of any of these hams they weren’t too expensive. Think maybe US8 for 40-50 grams on a plate… fried neurons, the next time you are on a trip abroad where they do have jabugo, you might beat the 2008 delivery date… there is some Iberico on offer in Manila at Terry’s even…

    Jun 6, 2006 | 6:27 am

     
  10. MGR says:

    Jabugo is the pinnacle of hams. Even the French are crazy about it. Mario Batali opened a restaurant in NY called Jamon! Jamon! but no Ibericos there yet..only serranos. It was just recently approved by the FDA in the US, hence the 2008 deliveries from Tienda.com. I just stuff myself with it whenever I’m in Spain. The brand Joselito Pascual of Jamon Iberico (jabugo) is one of the best and I was lucky enough to be invited to a dinner and eat a plateful!! Wow! Wash it down with a Vega Sicilia red while watching the red glow of the sunset amongst the vast olive groves (better ambience and cheaper to fly and eat it in Spain than pay for a leg and eat it alone in the US).

    Jun 6, 2006 | 7:12 am

     
  11. Kate Francisco says:

    Did you see or taste anything that could be the precursor of our chorizo de Bilbao used for Filipino-style paella and arroz a la valencia? It’s not always available here in the US and I’d like to find a good substitute. Stands to reason that a sausage from Spain might do the trick. Will have to try Portuguese linguica, too. What’s been your experience?

    Jun 6, 2006 | 8:01 am

     
  12. Marketman says:

    There were several dense chorizos in Spain that might do well. I think the density but high fat means their water content has really been reduced either through lengthy curing or lots of salt applied or a combination of both. I suspect a good food store that carried European hams and sausages might have a close alternative…though having said that there isn’t much jamon from Spain in the U.S. from readers’ comments… Can’t imagine why there wouldn’t be canned chorizo el rey at at a Pinoy store there…

    Jun 6, 2006 | 8:10 am

     
  13. Jean says:

    MM, have you seen the name “Balay”….? ;)

    Jun 6, 2006 | 12:11 pm

     
  14. Marketman says:

    Jean, sorry, am I missing something, not getting the “Balay” reference…

    Jun 6, 2006 | 1:52 pm

     
  15. juls says:

    in Hiligaynon, the Filipino longganisa is called chorizo. but it’s not like the Chorizo de bilbao that comes in green cans…

    on a different note, were there Filipino restos in Spain, MM?

    Jun 6, 2006 | 2:47 pm

     
  16. millet says:

    best medical opinion i heard in a long time… ;->

    Jun 6, 2006 | 4:18 pm

     
  17. MGR says:

    Kate, I use chorizo bilbao all the time here in the US for my paella. You can get them at http://www.donajuana.com. This is a Spanish specialty store that makes their own chorizos due to the ban on imported meats. Most restaurants of Spanish or Italian origin order from her. You can also substitute the chorizo bilbao with their cantimpalitos (same recipe as bilbao but smaller sizes..no slicing involed). Hope this helps.

    Jun 7, 2006 | 1:30 am

     
  18. Kate says:

    Thanks for the good intel, MM, MGR. That’s the problem with living out in the country (probinsya). Even our Filipino stores here don’t always have good old Marca El Rey in stock when I’m in the mood for paella or callos. Will sure try donajuana.com’s cantimpalitos. The only green cans available online are on a Guamanian/Chamorro web site, selling for $39 a pop. Those are big, heavy cans and will cost a pretty penny in shipping for sure. We are so heavily Hispanic here in California that there probably is a source for Spanish jamones y chorizos somewhere. Hmm…must investigate. Will keep you posted.

    Jun 7, 2006 | 2:25 am

     
  19. Kate says:

    Just put in my order for Chorizo Bilbao and cantimpalitos on http://www.laespanolameats.com (aka donajuana.com). Also threw in a tin of Spanish paprika. Resisted urge to splurge on sweets. Great web site! They do carry domestic jamon serrano. Can’t wait.

    Jun 7, 2006 | 2:53 am

     
  20. MGR says:

    Glad you found it. We actually go directly to their store where they have the meat factory. I buy the “mato” fresh cheese which is a staple in Barcelona area usually eaten with honey. We also order hams there for the Christmas season but you’ll need to do this months in advance. On Saturdays, they have paella cooked on-site too.

    Jun 7, 2006 | 6:29 am

     
  21. gonzo says:

    hate to say it but chorizo from Spain is far far superior to the stuff (chorizo “bilbao”) we get here in Manila, so much so that when you make a spanish dish here (like paella or cocido) the taste is so much better when using charcuterie from Spain.

    I think the superiority of Spanish charcuterie has something to do with their religion. After the Reconquista, when they took back huge chunks of their country from the Moors, Spaniards proved their catholic faith by openly consuming a lot of pork. Indeed anyone back then who happened not to like pork was immediately suspect and reported to the authorities. The individual in question was then tried and most probably tortured as well. Nothing like the Crusades to bring out the best in processed pork products haha.

    Jun 7, 2006 | 6:38 am

     
  22. Marketman says:

    Gosh, so nice to see all of the readers taking care of each other up there… glad MGR knew where to point Kate to… thanks. gonzo, yup, the chorizos I had in Spain were stunningly good. Juls, actually, I never saw a pinoy restaurant in Spain. There were supposed to be some turo-turo style places in Florence but I never got to them…

    Jun 7, 2006 | 7:04 am

     
  23. MGR says:

    Most of the Spanish chorizos are air dried and not kept in cans of lard. This may not be possible in the tropics due to the humidity and bugs. Also the intense flavors comes from the loads of paprika infused in the meat. No problem on the universal advise MM..that’s what this board is for, right?

    Jun 7, 2006 | 7:12 am

     
  24. Ciela says:

    This is silly. Ever wondered what they do with all the bulls they kill during the bullfight? I’ve seen the bullfights and they last all day long. My friend’s theory… maybe they use the bulls meat to come up with the assorted hams and sausages.

    Jun 7, 2006 | 8:28 pm

     
  25. Marketman says:

    Ciela, believe it or not, I asked a Spanish diplomat exactly this…what happens to the dead bulls…and I think he said they were donated to charities that would use the meat to feed the less fortunate. After the bull was sent to the abattoir/butcher, of course… They probably don’t make it into hams or sausages as those are typically from pigs and their porcine relatives…

    Jun 7, 2006 | 8:32 pm

     
  26. MGR says:

    Ever heard of creadillas or tortilla de Sacromonte? Hint: it’s part of the bull made into an omelette.

    Jun 8, 2006 | 3:24 am

     
  27. gonzo says:

    yes, the bull’s testicles. then there’s rabo de toro, oxtail…

    Jun 8, 2006 | 9:05 am

     
  28. Marketman says:

    As I mention in the post up top, “prairie oysters” are the fancy name for them in the U.S…. a bit descriptive, if I say so myself…

    Jun 8, 2006 | 9:55 am

     
  29. Kate says:

    My local newspaper recently featured an upcoming festival celebrating…you guessed it, what they call “mountain oysters” paired with beer and eaten to the strains of country music (yee-haw!).

    Jun 9, 2006 | 8:05 am

     
  30. Kate says:

    My chorizos, cantimpalitos and paprika arrived today! The sausages were still a little cool from the thermal bag and cold gel pack it was securely encased in (double-boxed and surrounded with foam peanuts, as well). Thanks again guys!

    Jun 9, 2006 | 1:04 pm

     
  31. Ly says:

    just found your site via blog-hopping. anyway, is it true that they call some sausages there longganiza?

    Jun 10, 2006 | 7:34 am

     
  32. Marketman says:

    Yes, Ly, they are called longganiza in the Philippines. We also have chorizo.

    Jun 10, 2006 | 9:45 am

     
  33. Norma says:

    where can I buy a can of Marca el rey’s chirizo de bilbao in Washington state, u.s.a.?

    Nov 6, 2006 | 12:33 am

     
  34. bagito says:

    MM, just had to share. Thanks to your blog, I became familiar w/ jamon iberico. Tonight, for our 16th wedding anniversary dinner, we went to this new restaurant in LA called The Bazaar by Spanish chef Jose Andres. It’s actually a tapas bar and one of the ham entrees was a jamon iberico de bellota plate (even different than the regular jamon iberico entree). OMG, it’s like I died and went to ham heaven and we’re not even big pig eaters since we’re watching our cholesterol levels (that’s why I eat vicariously na lang through your blog!). Anyway, it’s supposed to be the most prized ham (like you said from black-footed pigs in Iberica fed only w/ acorns) and that’s why when I got home, I had to immediately look up your jamon iberica post. (BTW, I was also lucky enough to have a pic taken w/ Mr. Andres. I was so excited, I didn’t care if there were celebrities around, it was Mr. Andres I was after. Hahaha! Anyway, I just wanna say thanks to your blog, I wasn’t ignorant and knew what jamon iberico was. Galing talaga ng blog mo!

    Feb 22, 2009 | 2:20 pm

     
  35. Marketman says:

    bagito, I absolutely LOVE jamon iberico de bellota. Went nuts with it the last time we were in Barcelona. And Jose Andres is a recent idol of mine, I like his style and demeanor on camera…

    Feb 22, 2009 | 2:40 pm

     
  36. bagito says:

    I was slightly overwhelmed when I met him (as at first we were told he wasn’t in) and when we were about to leave, saw him at the reception area and all I could say was “Mr. Andres, we’re such big fans, we’re such big fans.” (as Homer Simpson would say, “D’oh!”)
    Trivia: Senor Andres had absolutely soft hands. That’s the first thing I noticed and what stuck to mind. They were slightly pudgy and sooo soft. Not at all what I expected of a busy working chef. :)

    Feb 23, 2009 | 11:18 am

     
 

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