Iberian Porkland or Spain: Land o’ Ham


The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot — And whether pigs have wings.
If they did, they’d steer clear of ham loving Spain.

This is the place where it seems as though every second block has a ham emporium. Paradise of Ham, Museum of Ham or Emperor Ham to name a couple of the chains. The picture above was taken in the Museu del Jamon, a place to buy or eat ham. The ceilings are covered with curing hams and I calculated that there might be about a quarter of a million dollars of ham hanging there, and then failed to be able to imagine how many times I would have to multiply this to get Madrid’s ham supply.

There’s quite a range and a connoisseur would have a field day but we had the basic plate with some red wine. Not bad but nothing remarkable but who’s to say the ham to die for wasn’t lurking somewhere in the establishment.

Slicers of ham have their own competitions being judged on consistency of thickness as well as speed. Kind of your ham barista.

This is certainly a land where ham handed might be considered good, to ham it up would be to improve something and to be a ham might be both envied and dangerous to the health.



7 comments on “Iberian Porkland or Spain: Land o’ Ham

  1. At last, you have cleared up the burning question that has plagued me for over a year! Now I understand that this love of all things porcine in Cuba must be a cultural inheritance! Mmmm… ham…

  2. Hey Nat…its been a while.
    There’s a little Cuban sandwich place in the Toronto airport and I made sure to have one of those ham and cheese and salsa in flat grilled bread concoctions. Good. Don’t know how authentic it was.
    I’m sure someone has done a Ham Atlas. You know, how ham conquered the world.

  3. On first glimpse, that first photo struck me as a plethora of large, mummified, disembodied ears.

  4. The Spanish introduced hot peppers to China (I’m full of useless knowledge). I often wonder what Sichuan (Szechwan) cuisine would taste like without them. I guess those bringers of peppers also brought ham, but has taken several hundred years to catch on.

    I would like to visit a museum of ham, just to say that I had.

  5. Stevoi: maybe you’ve read it but Felipe Fernando-Armesto has a great book called Near A Thousand Tables. If you haven’t do…he’s a great writer and its a neat book. The basic pattern seems to be that almost all the elements we think of to typify a cuisine (tomatos for Italy, peppers in India) really came there from somewhere else.

  6. Also, speaking of museums…the one I want to see is the kimchi museum in Seoul. Now that is whacked!

  7. […] the title is almost worth the admission…had to see that having just come back from Madrid and various ham emporia, and the first hand knowledge of the Iberian love of the pig on the […]

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