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To be as Spanish as you can be, one needs to pause vegetarianism for a day.
Leave Seville, search for the authentic Andalusian food and get familiar with the therm jamón ibérico (cured Iberian ham).
If you stay in Seville, ham of the best quality is just a myth: sold in rare places hard to find. Determined to let us taste the real thing, Not Just a Tourist drove us to paradise, for an Iberian ham & Aracena tour.
“I just envy the way Spanish people eat”
When we arrived on “instagram green” hills in the National park of Aracena it was late autumn. But time became irrelevant. Among divine oak trees and small lake that serves as a spa, black Iberian pigs wandered around as children in the kindergarten. They strolled in groups looking for food.
Pigs ran from us even they have more than 200 kilograms each. We were not an acorn, their base diet. It’s this oak fruit that makes the sweet taste of the most expensive ham in the world, jamón ibérico de bellota. It literally means Iberian ham from acorn. The producers can use this brand if their ham comes from black Iberian pigs that eat acorn as their base diet.
The tradition belongs to the ancient Spanish history. Pork was the motherfood of Andalusian diet. Iberian families used each part of the pig but ham they ate only for Christmas. For the best quality, one needs to dry it for 36 months before it gets perfect.
We were much faster (and hungry). Browsed through the small factory and got ready for Iberian ham degustation in two hours. With rosemary cheese, picos – Spanish crusts, two glasses of vine, the gastronomic pleasures could start.
“It is completely natural, but you need to develop your sense”, said our guide Emanuel. “Some people might not like it”, he add, but we did. Nutty, sweet and not too salty, the flavour of the ham from the free ranged black pigs is astounding. Under impression, we skipped the caves of Aracena and indulged in a long Iberian pork based lunch in the near by village.
This animals never saw a cage in their life. It makes you step out of one too. You start to feel sorry for those unknown hams, jamón, prosciuttos in the supermarket and people who buy them.
Too dry, too salty or with artificial aromas yet too costly. But now I know how to tell a difference. In words of an American guest, “I just envy the way Spanish people eat”. Pity we can’t buy this Iberian ham online and eat it 365 days per year.
Ready to embark on a 100% Spanish experience and get to know all about this Spanish delicacy? Then check out our Iberian Ham Tasting Tour.