24 September 2012

A ham that is better than sex?

Oh, now of course, that’s a silly thing to say.  One has nothing to do with the other.

However ...

Sunday, we were the guests at a friend’s home for an afternoon of tapas and conversation.  The invitation was for us to arrive between 1 and 2 pm and we expected to get to hear about their recent vacation trip to Spain and other parts of Europe.

Turns out that they brought back some rare cheeses and what looked like a withered up leg-o-ham from Spain.

On a previous visit to their home, we had sampled a rare and special ham called Jamón ibérico which our host noted was very special and very expensive.  Uh ... understatement!

That ham came pre-sliced in a vacuum-packed little sleeve, slightly smaller than a sheet of paper.  This new ham was a major portion of the pig, bones, skin and all.

Take a look at Jamon Ibérico in Wikipedia for all of the skinny on this delicacy.

You can also see on Wikipedia that whereas some “lesser” Ibérico hams are sold with as little as 1 year of curing, most are cured for 2 years.  And if you’re really crazy for orgasmic eating, they actually sell one that is cured for 4 years.  The one we were now looking at was 4 years old. We were told that this ham started out at 30 kilos but after 4 years of curing it was down to - wait for it - only 8 kg!

Here’s how it goes down:  The ham leg, black hoof and all, is held by the “jamonera,” which is a special cutting board & clamp affair, made just to do this job right.  The chef uses a special trimming knife to remove any hardened skin and just enough fat so that sliced portions are principally lean.  Then he takes up another special knife with a very slender and thin blade, cutting paper-thin little bites from ½ to 1” wide x 1 to 1-½” long.  These are painstakingly arranged in a sunburst pattern onto the service platter.

Not sure what the eating etiquette is for something like this but it tastes purdy good just grabbin one of them little bitty patts and popping it into my mouth {snort!}.

Is it better than ... ?  Hey, remember that scene from When Harry Met Sally?  Yeah, that one; and when the older woman at the other table says, “I’ll have what she’s having.”?  I think if Sally's little "display" could be caused by food, she must have been having Jamón ibérico.


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