An Ode to Jamón – Menorca

jamón chips!

Ham Flavored Potato Chips

I just came back from Menorca, Spain, and after eating cured meats and jamón flavored potato chips everyday for a week, a normal person would probably be sick of ham, but then again I’m a little, er, different. I’ve been craving jamón for days now. Salty, fatty, nutty, I just can’t get enough of it.

Menorca was truly the land of delicious cured meats. Everywhere you went, it was pretty much guaranteed that you would find a ham suspended somewhere. Generic supermarket, check! Restaurant, check! Airport, check! Street market, check!

jamon! @ fornell's

Yes, that is correct, they have serrano ham at the street markets in Menorca!

serrano ham sammy @ fornells

My first meal off the plane was a serrano ham sandwich drizzled with olive oil from a stall in Fornells. I actually took off the top half of the bread and folded the bottom around the jamón so it was extra hammy. It was extremely delicious, especially after an 8 hour layover in London. Subway, just try to beat that!

The most delicious place in Menorca, however, is a shop called El Paladar in Ciutadella, or as I like to call it, ham heaven.

hanging hams @ el paladar

At El Paladar, I finally got to try jamón ibérico de bellota, which is cured ham made from Black Iberian Pigs. In NY, I heard ibérico ham is going for $130 a pound, as a result of the duties placed in the import of the meat. In Menorca, however, jamón ibérico was plentiful and reasonably priced.

our bounty @ el paladar

Jamón ibérico de bellota, is different from serrano and other types of ibérico ham because the pigs are fed only acorns for the last three months of their lives. As a result, the ham has a slight nuttiness, and because it is also aged for three years, the meat is very dense and packed with flavor. I read on wikipedia that because the iberian pigs are fed a diet of acorns, the fat in the ham is actually good for you, since the oleic acid lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. Not sure if this is the reason, but after a week of maximum face stuffage of cured meats, I hardly gained any weight. Tasty and healthy, it’s almost miraculous.

Now back in NY and faced with a jamón shortage, it is definitely sad times. If my hankerings get worse, however, I might have to swing by Despaña and spend some serious cash. Until then, I have my pictures to look at and some jamón flavored Ruffles, which by the way, truly capture the essence of ham. *CRUNCH* *CRUNCH*

El Paladar
Tienda 1
C/ Creu, 1

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