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Jose

Barcelona: The Ham Capital of the World

I live in Barcelona and actually run from there an internet-based shop of jamón ibérico de bellota. There are quite a few varieties of spanish ham; I'll try to give you a liitle advice...
First, if you want nothing but the best, you must look for the term "jamón ibérico de bellota". This means: dry cured ham coming from "iberico" (iberian) race pigs that have been raised in the wild in the traditional way (not in farms) in Spain's south-western pasturelands (Extremadura, Huelva), and that have been fed with acorns ("bellotas") and grass during their finishing period.
Second, you will have to choose which "ibérico de bellota" you want. The safest bet (to ensure a high consistent quality) is to go for a ham from a producer that is inscribed in a Denomination of Origin (DO). There are 4 "jamón ibérico" DOs in Spain:
Dehesa de Extremadura (Extremadura region)
Guijuelo (Salamanca region)
Huelva (Huelva region)
Los Pedroches (Córdoba region)
The one that is regarded for enforcing the strictest quality controls is the D.O. Dehesa de Extremadura.
Another option is to get yourself ham from one of the most reputed producers. Amongst them there are brands such as Maldonado, Joselito or CInco Jotas. These producers are not backed by any DO, but are regarded as some of the best jamón brands in Spain.
But remember, always look for "jamón ibérico de bellota", and you will be good.

Bacon's New Sizzle

Another pork candy for meat lovers (at least in Spain) is spanish "iberico ham", especially when it comes from pigs that are fed with acorns and grasses, and raised in the wild. It is to meat what oysters are to fish (both in quality and prize)... yummy yummy

30 Days of Pork

Talk about vegetarians and pork... my english teacher in barcelona (where I live) was a "pure" vegetarian too... until he tasted spanish iberian ham...

The Food of Pedro Almadóvar's Volver

Tortilla española is quite common among spanish "tapas", and it is actually a very simple treat: you chop potatoes in small dice, you fry them as you would do for regular french fries, then you cover them up with beaten eggs & salt and let that rest for a while. After that you heat up a little olive oil in a pan, pour all that inside, and cook. That is 4 ingredients: potatoes, eggs, salt, olive oil!! Some people in Spain would add onion to that, but the recipe stays the same all around Spain. Pisto, though, can vary quite a bit across different regions. Spanish tapas leverage great taste with simplicity. For instance, the ultimate spanish delicacy, spanish pata negra ham is consumed as-is, just the jamon slices by themselves. Well, maybe just with a glass of wine or "manzanilla". :)

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