Tappas 3....An Iberian Adventure

Today I would like to share with you some information regarding European Hams.
France, Italy, Spain and Portugal have some kind of raw ham. By ham I mean the hind or front leg of a pig, dry or wet cured under controlled conditions for a number of months until it is fit to be consumed. When the time comes, it is very thinly sliced to the point of being nearly translucent then served as a meze, appetizer, used in sandwiches, salads or sometimes to coat certain roasts.  This little journey will begin from Portugal, where the Presunto do Chaves comes from and the most well known in Portugal then we will continue to France, Italy and finally to Spain with a richer variety. To be honest I only heard of the Presunto during this little research. Well it's never too late...
Portugal, has the Presunto do Chaves.

Presunto in Portuguese means ham and Chaves is the region of Portugal it is produced in.  There are hams produced in other regions of Portugal but the one from Chaves is the most important. I have never tasted it although I was in Portugal in 1975 but my mind was on other things then...although I do remember the Vinho Verde (Green Wine).

France, has the Jambon de Bayonn:

We now proceed to the Basque city of France, Bayonne. This city lies in the South West on the Atlantic. Other known cities are Biarritz a cosmopolitan sea resort, Arcachon where the Arcachon oysters are from, and Saint Jean De Luz where my very good friends Anahid and Henri live. Bayonne is famous for its ham. Jambon de Bayonne where Jambon means ham in French. This has a sweet back taste and should be sliced very thin or cut in small cubes.

Italy has the Prosciutto Crudo di Parma and the Prosciutto di San Daniele. 
Our mini journey is now continuing to Parma, central Italy. This city is known also for the famous Parmigiano or Parmesan cheese. Prosciutto means ham in Italian. So Prosciutto di Parma is Parma ham. This also has to be thinly sliced or cubed.  In addition to this Prosciutto di Parma, there is the San Danielle ham which is produced in the San Daniele del Friuli area. The Friuli - Venezia Giulia region near Trieste, the farthest East Italian city of Trieste. This ham is appreciated and preferred by ham aficionados.

Spain: has two types of ham. The Jamón Iberico and the Jamón Serrano.
  • The Jamón Iberico (Jamón in Spanish means ham) also known as (a.k.a.)Jamón Pata Negra (black hoofed) a.k.a. Jamón Jabugo when it comes from the Jabugo region of Spain.  This ham is a superior quality and consequently the most expensive ham in Spain. This ham comes from a black pig.
  • The Jamón Serrano, literally means Mountain Ham. The ham comes from a white pig and the quality is inferior to the Iberico.
In short, the Jambon De Bayonne, Prosciutto Di Parma and the Jamón Serrano are all just about the same.

However, there is one more ham which is worth while mentioning is the Prague Ham which is cured, smoked and boiled and this is out of this world.

I am including a most interesting article from Wikipedia which gives a pretty good idea of the hams produced by 14 countries around the world.
Now let's talk about Tapas.
Repeating my advice of keeping your fridge stocked with some basic items, I am now going to share with you a nice platter of Tapas charcuterie presented to some friends of ours last Sunday.
You will need:
Serves 6
-  1½ French baguette.
-  300 gr of Philadelphia cream cheese.
-  12 - 18 slices of Serrano ham thinly sliced.
-  2-3 Chorizo hot sausage sliced round.
-  2 small salamis also sliced diagonally.
-  Some black and green olives.
-  2 pieces of boiled cauliflower.
-  Slice your baguettes diagonally in equal ½ inch slices.
-  Spread Philadelphia cheese over all of bread slices.
-  Lay slices of Serrano Ham, chorizo sausage, and salami over each slice of bread.
-  Add some black and green olives around the plate.
-  A piece or two boiled cauliflower.
And you are done.
Your guests will love it especially if you  serve a Rioja red.
Hope you enjoyed our little trip through South West Europe...I certainly enjoyed it.


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