Monday, February 11, 2008
Pick: Iberico Ham
Some of you know that I am actually half Spanish. My Mom is from Galicia, Spain. I spent 3 years of my childhood in Madrid and we spend every summer in the Baleric island of Mallorca. And with that background comes an unbound love for one of the best things Spain has to offer the world: The Iberico Ham.
If you like ham, say Italian parma or San Daniele, you have no idea what the "pata negra" is like. It is simply in a category by itself. The pig, a mix of the domestic pig and the Iberico wild boar, sports a black hoof, hence its name "pata negra", litterally "black leg". It suffer from the same genetic disease that Kobe beef does, namely the fat is intermixed with the meat which gives it a marbled look and its exquisite taste. Yes, the taste is always in the fat.
Here is the rub though, you couldn't get it in the US, until this year that is. For years I was frustrated that I couldn't procure myself this fine pig. Every time I would go to Spain I would buy a leg and eat it over the course of 3 weeks. Sometimes I would sneak some back to the US (along with Pipas con sal, another one of my favorites) but mostly I would long, all year long, for most ultimate of bacons.
Finally 2008 is a brilliant year and the borders have opened for the Iberico. My mom was egging me to become an importer, now that I am looking for a new line of business and I did fancy the image of "pig farmer" or "pig importer" for a little while but decided it was too much work. Also a few specialty shops have already started importing it from Spain. I have ordered it from a shop called "Delicias de Espana". It comes a little pricey at $700 for 10 pounds or $70 a pound, but blame the strong Euro and know that even in Spain, the best of this stuff does sell for $70/pound. I think it means this is not going mainstream any time soon but that is just fine by me. I can afford it and there has got to be a reason why I made a small fortune, so that I can afford fancy pig!
The ham arrived today by UPS, I have already put on 1/2 pound!
PS: by mail, a great picture from Juha with this caption:
"Your true legacy, JBoss old-timers appreciation for Spanish Ham"
This is the real deal a "5 jotas" with the actual bone. I recognize Jean-Frederic Clere, holding the ham, his wife is spanish so he knows his stuff.