Although Catalonia has one of the most abundant and varied larders in Spain the one thing that is doesn’t produce is cured Iberico ham. The whole of the region is too humid to be able to cure large ham legs properly and the Teruel region of Aragon is the nearest place that produces them. In the south of Spain however, they are endemic and the whole of Spain, and now most of the rest of the world, can enjoy the fruits of their labour.
As cured ham is not actually categorised as meat it is something that Spanish vegetarians can eat without any ethical dilemmas. This regularly exasperates Northern European meat abstainers when they find long slices of lard in their vegetarian salad. This uniquely Iberian description of items is noticeable in their food and their politics. Last time I was in Barcelona a friend treated me to an entire discourse of the rights and wrongs of being a Catalan or Basque nationalista as opposed to independentista. My observation that only a country where vegetarians eat ham could differentiate between such synonyms was met with disdain and I was only forgiven on production of an acceptable bottle of Priorat.
If you wish to convert your vegetarian friends or share with the omnivores the delights of Iberian ham a small group of artisan producers from Trevelez in the Alpujarras mountains in Granada have come up with a novel idea. You could be the proud Godparent to one of their hams and watch its progress from mere pig leg to the magnificent jamon that all the food writing clichés in the world have failed to adequately describe.
At the moment Jamones de Abuxarra have the hams that will be ready for Dec 2011 covered in salt. They will take them out on June 10th which is the deadline for adoption applications.
To apply e-mail email@example.com with your request. You’ll be given a number (you can even request a name) and your adopted ham will wear its ID number/name throughout the rest of the curing process. Jamones de Abuxarra will then photograph and video your ham, so that by Dec 2011 when you and your ham will finally meet you have a great respect and understanding of your adopted leg and it will feel like an old friend has come in to your house.
Please adopt one of these hams. It is good to remember that a ham is not just for a restaurant. It’s also for Christmas.
Jamones Abuxarra can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
N.B. I have just been informed by Jamones Abuxarra that to adopt a ham is FREE – you can buy it once it is ready if you want.