My dear friend Barb recently commented on my Facebook page…”do explain about the birds diving into the metal cups???” The timing could not have been more perfect as we were just discussing our next post to write and we wanted to elaborate on those visuals.
Those bird like images diving into cups are what Spain in some ways is all about…Super Tasty Cured Ham! — Iberico Ham. They are everywhere and a recent trip to Valencia’s amazing Mercado Central is a huge indoor market filled with everything imaginable and these flying pigs were hanging all around us and the cups were to catch the slow dripping of moisture in the meat. As we walked through the mercado, I kept asking myself “why there are so many vendors selling this ham”. We started to realize it must be much like artisanal wines, cheeses and beer in the states, producers with a passion carving out their own cured ham niche — it must not be that uncommon to have a whole leg of this in one’s home? In some of our previous pictures you can see legs of ham shackled to a wood cutting board where a serving or taste sliced to order — when not in use the meat is simply covered until the next cutting which could be the following day or days.
The price and quality of these cured ham legs varies over a broad spectrum. We also saw these in smaller quantities in the local supermarket just around the corner from our apartment. One ham leg hanging caught my eye at the Mercado Central as the price was 568 Euros which is $720 dollars! — now thats some high brow ham flying first class! There were also other whole ham legs on the other end of the price scale. A little research revealed that the expensive ham, manufactured by Joselito, is considered to be the best cured ham in Spain and the pigs are fed on a diet of acorns — I guess this is the pig version of kobe beef, pampered pigs! Nancy and I love pig and we have certainly had our pig game on while in Spain — oink!