The luxurious Spanish food known as Iberico jamon or ham is famous for its velvety texture and singular savory flavor. Experience it once and you’ll never forget it. Although many Iberico jamon lovers know the distinctively delicious taste, they may not know all there is to know about the Bentley of pork.
Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Iberico pork.
1. Iberico pork is the most iconic food among Spanish people. (Sorry, folks, it’s not paella!). Also known as pata negra or black foot (because of the pig’s hoof color), it’s so popular that Spaniards use the term to describe something that represents the best of the best.
2. Iberico jamon was not allowed in the U.S. until 2005, with an Iberico pork producer called FERMIN as the first to be USDA approved.
3. The first FERMIN Iberico jamon imported into the U.S. was auctioned—and the winner, a New York attorney, paid $26,600, with the proceeds going to charity.
4. Iberico is a unique breed of pig that’s closely related to a wild boar from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). The pigs roam freely and exclusively on the west portion of Spain and eastern Portugal.
5. Some of the pigs gorge on acorns or bellota for the last few months of their lives during the so-called montañera season from September through February. Within those 6 months the pigs can double their weight resulting in extra flavorful pork.
6. Because of this acorn feeding, the ham is high in oleic acid and contains omega 3s as well as anti-oxidants. The oiliness of the jamon resembles olive oil in flavor and coloration.
7. Iberico jamon is the longest cured ham on the market—up to 4 years.
8. The Iberico de bellota jamon is widely recognized as one of the jewels of gastronomy internationally. Along with caviar, truffles, and foie gras, Iberico jamon can be found on the menus of top restaurants all over the world.
9. In the U.S., Iberico pork can be purchased both in its dry cured format and as raw cuts.
10. In some Spanish villages, Iberico pigs can be seen foraging along the cobble stone streets. They are left alone by villagers and viewed as a sort of holy cow like in India; that is, until they’re ready to be eaten.
The next time you indulge in a slice of Iberico jamon, hopefully you’ll experience some of the history and backstory as well as the taste of the delicious ham itself. Que aproveche!