It’s near-impossible to set foot in Spain without seeing a pig’s leg hanging from a butcher’s storefront window. At first, the hunk of leg with the hoof still attached was a bit shocking to my over-sensitized American eyes, but after one slice of savory jamón ibérico drizzled in Spanish olive oil, all was well in the world.Jamón ibérico is from the black Iberian pig of southern Spain and Portugal and the process from pasture to plate is a long one. The pigs are raised exclusively on a diet of acorns (or a mixture including commercial feed for lesser-quality meat), slaughtered and salted for weeks, and left drying for a year or longer.
Thinly sliced ribbons of this succulent ham are most accurately described as a cousin to their Italian counterpart prosciutto and were accompanied on my plate with Gazpacho (a chilled summertime soup of tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil and thickened with bread crumbs), Queso Manchego (made from the La Mancha region of sheep’s milk and aged for 60+ days), Ensalada Rusa (diced meats, potatoes and vegetables in mayo) and Escalibada (grilled red pepper and tuna salad.) Of course, no Spanish meal is complete without wine, and I chose to sip on some La Rioja, from the beautiful Basque region. ¡Buen provecho!
This post has been entered into the GranTourismo HomeAway Holiday Rentals travel blogging competition. http://grantourismotravels.com/2010/09/03/grantourismo-travel-blogging-competition-september/ (www.homeaway.co.uk)