Sunday, September 14, 2008

Let them eat - ham!





















Few nationalities have such a passionate relationship to cured meats as the Spanish. They love their chorizos, jamon serrano, and the precious pata negra. Even today home made cured meats are made all over the Iberian peninsula. I remember something I experienced in Brussels 10+ years ago.....

The sister-in-law of my good friends Øivind and Monica comes from Salamanca, and she stayed with them at the same time as I. She had brought one of her mothers home made chorizos, and shared it with us, proudly. I say people in the Spanish highlands know what they are doing.

In Sitges we found a Jamoneria selling all grades of Jamon, from the relativ inexpensive ones to the top shelf priced from EUR 100 a kilo and up. We stood outside and enterred in awe to see all the pigs legs hanging up waiting to be carved in very thin slices.

For Norwegians this kind of passion seems strange. To create a "Louis Vuitton"-like shop to sell ham seems to be very natural. This passion is wonderfully described in the Spanish film "Jamon Jamon" and a word of warning - you do not know what good ham can do to you - it may wreck you life!! One scene from this film springs to mind.

A young couple is having a good time behind a giant logo of the brand "Torres" depicting a large bull. The man sucks at her breast, and she asks "what does my tit taste like"? He thinks for a moment and answers "you tit tastes like patatas (potatoes)". Then she turns the other one over and asks; "what does this tit taste of?"

He sucks it, and answers without hesitate; "Jamon!"

Back to Sitges.

Our friend John went in and bought a few slices of the best and we sat down to share and compare it with a few slices of lesser quality ham.

It was certainly a difference, both in texture and taste. The expensive had an intense aroma reminding of nuts and was extremely tender. The more inexpensive variety was good, but the first was superior by far.
So when in Spain, invest in 50 grams of expensive ham and have a taste of cured perfection - and buy a bottle of cava to go with it. It is perfect!

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