Results tagged “ham”

In search of the perfect pig

spain
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Smcastellsign0001.jpgAs we got higher into the Pyrenees, the road signs got gradually less French.  Call it Occitan, call it Catalan - whichever way you look at it we were moving into new territory.  As if to illustrate the point, we also quickly found ourselves in the middle of the biggest hailstorm I've ever seen.  This, of course, was the perfect moment to discover that our sunroof didn't seal properly.

Smpatanegra0001.jpgWe'd come to Spain to settle an argument.  Ever since visiting Hungary, something had been nagging away at us (and I don't just mean Barnaby).  Which is the true king of pigs?  In the Spanish corner, the pata negra pig, black of foot, fed on acorns and cossetted like a prize sumo wrestler (do sumo wrestlers eat acorns? Probably).  In the Hungarian corner, the mangalica, curly of hair, and a whacking 70% body fat.  Both tasty, no doubt - but in the world of cured pork products there can be only one winner.  Only time, and extensive sampling, would tell ...

Top 10 tastes of Spain

spain
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Various people had told us the food wasn't good in Spain.  Even the Spanish food writer and historian Clara Maria Amezua, who we'd first met at a conference in Greece in May, lamented the decline of Spain's gastronomy.  She attributes this to Fernando and Isabella's (los Reyes Catolicos) expulsion of the Moors and Jews at the end of the 15th century.  With them went many sophisiticated and richly flavoured north African and Sephardic dishes.  But, as we found, traces of their culinary traditions are still to be found. 

And what's more, the ingredients in Spain are glorious.  Top quality fresh vegetables and seafood, in particular, are widely available. Here are ten our favourite taste memories of our journey through Spain, from Catalunya to Andalucia, via the Basque Country, Galicia and Castille.  Often the most delicious things we found were the simplest; those showcasing just one wonderful ingredient...

Acorn to bacon

spain
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Smdehesaacorns0001.jpgWe knew the jamón in Spain can be fantastic, and we wanted to make sure we got to try the best.  So after asking around we found ourselves in Jabugo, surrounded by miles of 'dehesa' countryside and little white-washed villages on hilltops, with the sweet, sweet smell of curing jamón wafting through the air everywhere we went...

Prosciutto with melon and figs

italy
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So, I've managed to reach Week 52, which means I must have left London a whole year ago.  To show off my new skills after a year of culinary studies in the Bay Area, I find myself now sending you a recipe that basically says, 'get some prosciutto, melon and figs and put them together on a plate.'  I have learnt more complicated stuff, honest, like boning out and stuffing whole ducks, but thought that as delicious as the ducky ballotine is, you'd be more likely to spend 20 mins throwing these three gorgeous ingredients together. 

Smmelonprosciuttofig0009.JPGFigs and melons are classic Italian pairings for prosciutto.  This dish beautifully combines the three.  It is served as an appetiser at the Chez Panisse Café during the summer when figs and melons are at the peak of their season.  For best results prepare everything at the last minute (but make sure the ingredients are at room temperature first).
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