Spain’s Legendary Iberico Ham – Raised In Texas?!?!?!?! A Food Scandal Over Blackfoot Pigs!

Behold Spain’s Majestic Iberico Ham!

This gorgeous, REAL Iberico Ham was given to me by my wife for my birthday last year – and I learned to carve it into somewhat “thicker than they needed to be” slices:

It’s a gorgeous to look at as it is to eat, but this unique food from Spain is under attack!

More on this incredible “Ham at home”, but it’s relevant to show you now because of a huge scandal in the world of ham!

Spain’s Iberia Ham Scandal – A U.S. Misappropriation?

Yes, there is a “ham scandal” brewing – because a U.S. Rancher has decided to raise his own Blackfoot Pigs, which are used for Spain’s famous Iberico Ham!

The Guardian has the story, and they set up the issue this way:

“For the purist – and there are many purists – top-class jamón ibérico de bellota (acorn-fed Iberian ham) must come from Iberian blackfoot pigs that spend the last months of their lives eating acorns on the dehesa, a traditional Spanish or Portuguese pasture shaded by mature oak trees.”

By the way, this is a photo of Iberico Ham hanging in Barcelona’s iconic Boqueria Market, where my wife and I enjoyed a plate of the incredibly delicious meat…here is more from The Guardian about how unique this product is to Spain:

“After being hung and dry cured for at least 36 months, the meat produced is silky with fat, and, say experts, has a flavour that can only come from the acorns. Spaniards consider jamón ibérico their greatest gift to international gastronomy – the caviar of the Iberian peninsula.”

So what’s the problem?

Well, they report that two American companies have starting importing “Blackfoots” to the US in order to make their own jamón!

So, if these Blackfoot Pigs are brought to the US and raised here, can they still be considered Iberico?

The Guardian goes on to report:

“Iberian Pastures is taking advantage of the state’s native crop to feed the pigs not acorns but “pecans, peanuts and sunflower”.

According to Constantino Martínez, ham industry consultant: “The real problem is that we are a nation of idiots who have given away our heritage that our governments have done nothing to protect, and then the media present the people exploiting it as great innovators.”

The diet of acorns is essential to producing the prized omega-9 fats that make the meat so delicious, he points out. Peanuts are “not the same thing at all”.”

This is a tough one: much as all Champagne sold outside of the Champagne region of France has to be called “Sparkling Wine”, can Spain enforce the “Iberico” name of a Ham to ensure it must be raised there?

For me, “Iberico” means Ham from Spain…if it’s raised and processed somewhere else, then it should be called something else.

More terrific reporting by The Guardian – you can read much more of their story by clicking on the link here:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/15/fury-in-spain-at-us-plans-to-produce-iberian-ham-in-texas-and-georgia

As I told you, my wife Alex bought me a real Iberico Ham to keep in our wine cellar:

Kept under a cheesecloth, the Ham lasted months, and there was nothing more fun than going into the cellar and slicing off some Iberico Ham!

We fell in love with this delicacy during our trip to Barcelona a few years ago:

These Iberico Hams hanging in Barcelona’s famous Boqueria food market were the beginning of an incredible food adventure for us – and you see everything we consumed by clicking on my story here:

https://johnrieber.com/2013/06/12/barcelonas-famous-boqueira-food-stalls-tapas-hanging-ham/

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Leave a comment and let me know how you feel about this scandal.

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Categories: Books / Media, cookbooks, Exotic Travel, Food, food blog, Food Review, Memoirs, nature, Pop Culture, Recipes, Spain, Travel, Travel Adventures, Travel Memoir, Wacky Food

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11 replies

  1. This is an interesting discussion point, John. I can see why the Spanish would take umbrage and I also think the ham should be given another name. Otherwise, it is misleading to purchasers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lucky, lucky man….but what scandal I do hope the Spanish sharpen their claws and put a stop to this…Speciality food and their heritage must be preserved…John if I ever visit you and you don’t have a spare bedroom I am happy to be put in the wine cellar it isn’t a problem..stiff upper lip and all that…hehe

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Never leave me alone in your wine cellar, John!
    I also love that ham, though it is very rich to eat too much of. We have a ‘war’ going on with Italy over Parmesan Cheese. Locallly produced similar cheese can no longer be called ‘Parmesan’, and has to be called things like ‘Dried salted cheese’, or ‘Italian-style cheese’.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very interesting controversy, John. That ham looks yummy!

    Like

  5. My, my, that’s a big ham you have, John! Your wife knows the way to your heart on your birthday. Thank you for enlightening me on the ham scandal, which would have completely passed me by if it weren’t for your article. How very sneaky to be importing; I agree, if it’s brought in but raised elsewhere, it should have a different name. Surely that would come under the guise of false advertising.xx

    Like

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