After almost 27 years after the premiere of the film, Jamón, Jamón is still an ode to Spanish culture, an ironic song to the stigmas of social classes. With high doses of eroticism, the film sums up perfectly our country’s passions and impulses. Bigas Luna declared for Cambio 16 in 1992 that “The origin of everything is my decision to portray the country through food and sex, as from my point of view, Iberian ham (jamón) is the best thing in our national cuisine. I thought that I would be a good starter. “
Because WabiHost wants to recommend one of the greatest experiences of caressing Spanish culture, we invite you to see the film starring (very young) Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEzXp8IjzZA). Secondly, eat real ham. However, as we do not want you to be fooled by copycats and taste its true flavour, we help you identify it with this post.
Seven keys that you have to know to savour a real jamón
There are many theories and myths about how to identify a quality Iberian ham. It is precisely because where there is exceptionality and magic, there is also often picaresque cheats and ignorance.
Please, do not leave Madrid without being able to try a true Iberian experience. Let’s do this.
Firstly, the price, will guide you a lot. There are no bargains when it comes to an Iberian ham. It hugely depends on the ration, the establishment and the presence or not of a live cutter. If you add the costs of raising the pig and its subsequent cure (prolonged in years), it is understandable that it is an expensive raw material.
Although it is not always easy in a restaurant or some establishments to distinguish, the label is another factor to consider. For 5 years it has been mandatory that the legs have a distinctive label or seal. Roughly, a black label indicates that the ham is 100% pata negra (black trotter) fed with acorn. A red one, indicates that the pig is crossed-breed to an extent of 50 -75% but also reared with acorn. The green, are completely different hams, with different percentages of Iberian breed, but fed with herbs, natural pastures or fed in outdoor facilities. Finally, the white one, are pigs raised with bait in intensive facilities.
You will never screw up examining an Iberian ham if you look at it. The leg of Iberian hams, is usually elongated. Also if the ankle is thin, we can say that we are looking at a ham of higher quality and purity.
This is another of the most easy to see distinctions but, nevertheless, not the most reliable one. Traditionally, it has been understood that the leg of ham that had the black hoof entered into the ham top list. But, there are races that have this genetic modification and does not belong to the group of Iberian acorn-fed hams. Therefore, you should also check the color, the wear of the hoof. If both nails are at the same height, it is a pig that has traveled through the pasture and a ham worth trying.
The outer fat of Iberian acorn-fed ham is soft, tender and bright. It actually melts progressively at room temperature. The lower the quality, the harder, yellowish and sturdier the ham will be.
As for the internal fat of an Iberian acorn-fed ham, which goes in the same direction as the cut, it usually melts with the heat of the palm of the hand. Veins of intramuscular fat do not mean that the ham is of higher quality. In fact, 100% Iberian ham has thinner infiltrations of fat, sometimes undetectable by human eyes.
Denomination of Origin
The Denomination of Origin (D.O), that is, the guarantee of where the ham comes from, is the only one that can guarantee us whether it is an Iberian breed pig or not. The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture recognises only four in Spain: D.O. Guijuelo (Salamanca), D.O. Dehesa de Extremadura, D.O. Jamón de Huelva and D.O. Jamón Los Pedroches (Córdoba)
So that all these guidelines are not forgotten, let us suggest some places in Madrid where you can find Jamón Ibérico de Bellota. Of course, you must implement all the recommendations and decipher the pure real ham.
Finally, always remember that the best complement to a good Jamón are good company and some more jamón. So come with us and enjoy it at its fullest.
Post written by Rocío Peña
Translated by Matías A. Ferrer
Picture: Plato Jamón cortado por Antonio Velasco