Early September I went off to Sydney for the Fine Food fare. This event is not open to the public, it’s Trade Only, and it was good to see so many Kiwi food and drink producers there plying their products, or tasting what the Aussies had to offer.I tended to stick around the Spanish stand because they kept on offering me samples of Iberico ham. After my tenth visit I think they sussed that I was the same person coming back again and again (you probably know the usual disguises for such stunts: glasses on, glasses off, sunglasses on, jacket on, jacket off, hair up, hair down). But it’s gorgeous stuff and I can’t be blamed for being a a pig over pig. And I love the story of the ham as much as I love the ham. Iberico ham comes from a primitive breed of pigs that only exist in Spain. They’ve got black hooves and their legs are slimmer than those of pigs used to produce Serrano ham (Serrano ham is not as expensive as Iberico ham, but it’s still scrumptious). There are three types of these black-footed pigs (cebo, recebo and bellota), and the bellota (say bay-otta) pigs, the best of the lot, feed on aromatic herbs and acorns. You know you are going to love it when they tell you stories like that.
But I reckon you can taste it in the ham – it’s very savoury, and not as sweet as some other hams. The texture of the meat is not as fine and soft as prosciutto, it’s a little coarser, meatier, gruntier!!! Fat is marbled throughout the meat, unlike prosciutto which has a collar of silky fat around the edges of the premium slices. It makes for a very satisfying mouthful of salt, savoury, sweet and fat. Yum!!! You’ll want more. You’ll hop in the queue at food fairs to try it, doning disguises like me, I betcha! And the good thing is, you don’t have to concern yourself too much about the fat content as the fat of Iberico piggies is rich in unsaturated fatty acids that are good for us. Slice away!