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Let's see who else shares the opinion that Iberico is superior to Parma:

from The Most Delicious Ham in the World, by Arthur Lubow:

article here.

The illustrious, archetypally French chef Joël Robuchon informed me flatly in Paris, "The ham and pork of Spain are the best in the world." (We were speaking at the L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, his idiosyncratic—and mobbed—version of a sushi or tapas bar, where a plate of unadorned jamón ibérico is the most expensive dish on the menu.)
In New York the telegenic Mario Batali recently opened Bar Jamón, which features Spanish tapas. Because of import restrictions, Bar Jamón can serve only jamón serrano, a cousin of jamón ibérico. Still, serrano is more than respectable. Chef Andy Nusser, who runs the kitchen at Bar Jamón, says that serrano ham is superior to prosciutto from Parma. However, he readily admits, "Once you taste ibérico, you can't compare it to anything else."

I'm sure more can be found on this subject. I just found this article after a quick google search.

SD

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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. . . .

Myself and many like minded people think that "in general" Parma ham is superior to Serano ham. Now this is not only a personal palate judgement but translated in sales figures among delicatessen food shops and a small chain of restaurants belonging to the same group in both the UK and France. I assume Serano ham would fare higher in Spain and Parma ham would fare higher in Italy for obvious reasons.

Of course we can sit and debate what type of delicatessen, what type of ham and selling to which type of customers and same for the restaurants. Irrelevant of the customer profiles, the sale of Serano ham is eclipsed by approx 3.5/1 v Parma. Such facts are hard to digest if you are a Spanish ethnic person or very much entrenched in your own opinion. But unfortunately this is how the dice rolls.

You say potatoes and I say tomatoes.

Maybe you like to go to a restaurant to enjoy the entertainment and I like to go to a restaurant to enjoy the food. You may like Adria and I like Roux. You may drink Rioja and I drink St Emilion and coke in the can to that matter.

You say potatoes and I say tomatoes.

Varying and opposite opinions are held on almost every subject and no more subjective a field exists than taste. The most fallacious arguments to support subjective opinion as objective evidence use price or popular demand as proof of quality. Sales figures from a small chain of restaurants in France and the UK, would be highly dependent on what the chain was offering in the way of product selection and relative pricing of those products. Although it is my personal subjective opinion that Spain produces finer hams than Italy, I won't deny that I could sell far more of an inferior grade of prosciutto from Italy at two dollars a pound, than I can sell the finest Serrano ham from Spain at $100 a pound. Advertising and promotion often have a lot more to do with sales than quality or value.

The accusation that certain members, whose intelligence, sophistication and knowledge of food has already been demonstrated in the public forum, are entrenched is insulting to the membership at large. That their opinions are suspect or less worthy because if their heritage is is an argument that's counterproductive to discussion on the merits of any issue. It's especially unfortunate when it comes from a member whose own credibility has not been proven and who's built a reputation of putting down expert opinion. Loaded dice seem to roll in favor of their owners all too often, but it doesn't alter the laws of chance.

What troubles me as moderator and host of this forum is not that members have different tastes, or that I may see some of them as not having discerning taste, but that certain attacks on taste seem to be little more than trolls for flames and arguments. Noting that we all have different opinions after belittling other opinions is not so much a retreat from your stance than it is camouflage. That's not hard to digest, it's hard to swallow. It's not necessarily rude to come into the Spain forum and argue that prosciutto di Parma is better than jamon Serrano. What is rude, is to start the discussion here and then rule out the local participants as being prejudiced on account of their heritage.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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. . . .

Don´t worry, we will keep it for us since there´s not that much :raz:

That is the real bad news of the thread. The good news is that Spain is still more than jamon. Indeed, Spanish food is more than jamon.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Christopher, If you knew more about the US Govt. agencies than you would be more than glad to live in Norway you would relize you are blessed.

There was talk about Mexico trying to join the EU because they export most of their oil to Europe and it is their #1 export , besides labor. Being in California I for one would be soooooooo happy if Mexico actually got in the EU and we could bring all those great things to Mexico. That said, the US Customs are a drag but only if they catch you

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

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Excellent points made Bux. Egulleters rarely if ever have problems on the boards and I'm glad you stepped in. Besides Iberico Bellota is such a rare bird many will never try it anyway. Those of us that have count the days until we can have it again. Most expensive foods and wines seem not to have good value, this is not true of great Iberico. It is sublime and overwhelming all at once. Dam I wish I were back in Spain. I do however have one more pkg of nice serrano and a couple of cheeses, and 2 chorizos left so I think this weekend shall be a Spanish BBQ.

Edited by dfunghi (log)

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

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I just read this entire thread. I have neglected Spain and it's food for far too long! But out of curiosity, how many have actually smuggled Jamon back into the states? ANd has anyone gotten caught? When I am working (crewmember for a major airline), I will only bring back that which is legal or if I can feign stupidness. We receive fines into the thousands for bringing back illegal stuff.

Paris is a mood...a longing you didn't know you had, until it was answered.

-An American in Paris

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- Jamon Serrano ham (poor brother to Parma Ham)

You might want to add "In my opinion" to your quoted sentence. Many people would not consider Jamon a poor brother to anything.

Regarding what to bring, be aware of custom regulations. Some items such as Jamon Iberico are ilegal to bring to US soil. You have the risk of losing those items.

Alex

Jamón Serraño is far superior to parma ham. Jamón Iberico de Jabugo Bellotta is prefered. EXCELLENT!

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vserna.

No need to be flabbergasted. Do the search yourself and not on eGullet but in real life with Parma Ham purchased in Italy and Iberico purchased in Spain. And if you think you are in the right, then we agree to disagree and no need for the repartie!

Almass, I for one I'm interested in reading your arguments which make you thing that Parma ham is superior to Ibérico. And if no argument other than experimentation, that's it buy them and compare them, is offered, then I'm afraid that we would have to be far more specific about what's to be compared. Are we talking of making a comparison of the very best of each products, a random selection, or what? Just the fact of having 5 official D.O. for Ibérico, each one with its own nuances (feeding, climate, aging periods, . . .), makes the whole comparison process quite difficult.

I missed your post and hence answer only now.

Myself and many like minded people think that "in general" Parma ham is superior to Serano ham. Now this is not only a personal palate judgement but translated in sales figures among delicatessen food shops and a small chain of restaurants belonging to the same group in both the UK and France. I assume Serano ham would fare higher in Spain and Parma ham would fare higher in Italy for obvious reasons.

The reason that Parma ham is more popular is that Italian food is more famous, and that spanish charcuteries was outlawed for export in the EU for many years for the "swine plague"..

Jamón Serraño, Jamón Iberico has far, far, far more quality, more and better taste. it's so wonderful! I'll sometimes get cravings for it, even if I haven't eaten it in months!

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I certainly do not want to enter a theological discussion of hams, but as a practical matter, if you enter the boqueria and go straight to the back (center) you will find a vendor of very fine ham (Belloto, etc.). It will undoubtably be confiscated if the customs dogs (I've never seen any, but then again I suspect the hashish smugglers don't see them either) smell the good stuff, so buy a quantity you can afford to lose.

While I seem to be able to get perfectly good stuff here in the USA (don't tell any one, or Bush will outlaw it!), you might look for a good bottle of pimenton, the spectacuar Spanish smoked paprika.

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I've just read the more argumentative posts here, and wish to inject another complicationn to the discussion: EU regulations. I'm a fan of the more artisanal hams of Spain and Italy to the degree I've been able to taste them while visiting both countries. I admit to being impressed by the degree to which ham infuses everyday life in spain - i.e. the ham as a fixture on the kitchen counter.

In Italy the EU regulations really seem to be making inroads against the production and distribution of the better artisanal hams. You almost have to be a "friend" of a restaurant to get culatello in the Emiglia Romagna these days.

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I certainly do not want to enter a theological discussion of hams, but as a practical matter, if you enter the boqueria and go straight to the back (center) you will find a vendor of very fine ham (Belloto, etc.). It will undoubtably be confiscated if the customs dogs (I've never seen any, but then again I suspect the hashish smugglers don't see them either) smell the good stuff, so buy a quantity you can afford to lose.

While I seem to be able to get perfectly good stuff here in the USA (don't tell any one, or Bush will outlaw it!), you might look for a good bottle of pimenton, the spectacuar Spanish smoked paprika.

Pimenton picante is excellent. Also dried whole peppers, and canned, grilled peppers with high quality; pimientos de piquillo which is excellent to stuff as an appetizer.

What I've brought home from Spain, the last time:

Lots of Jabugo Ham

Budín, dried sausage.

smoked pimentón.

masa de harina, corn meal.. unavailable in elsewhere in europe

chorizos

morcilla; blood sausage.

canned glass eels with garlic, funny little wormlike creatures in oil!

cheeses - idiazabál, cabrales, tetilla, manchego + others

olive oil

olives, fresh local varities

viagre de jeréz - Sherry Vinegar. Always to be bought from spain.

pimientos de piquillo

mojo picante

squid inc.

Big bit of bacalao

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Excellent points made Bux. Egulleters rarely if ever have problems on the boards and I'm glad you stepped in. Besides Iberico Bellota is such a rare bird many will never try it anyway. Those of us that have count the days until we can have it again. Most expensive foods and wines seem not to have good value, this is not true of great Iberico. It is sublime and overwhelming all at once. Dam I wish I were back in Spain. I do however have one more pkg of nice serrano and a couple of cheeses, and 2 chorizos left so I think this weekend shall be a Spanish BBQ.

Consider yourself lucky with customs. I just returned from Barcelona. Upon declaring my $100 of Jamon Iberico de Bellota, it was promptly confiscated. This was after a phone call to customs before my trip in which I was told about the relaxed rules for Spanish ham. To my surprise, the customs agent in Boston initially said that no meat from Spain was ever allowed. After I mentioned the phone conversation I had with customs, the customs agent looked up the rules in a book and agreed that some types of Serrano were now permitted. However, she was concerned that my package said Bellota instead of Serrano. I tried to explain that Bellota referred to the acorns fed to the pigs, etc., but the agent wanted to go strictly by her instructions. She was also concerned that the address on the package said Madrid instead of Toledo or Valencia because some approved suppliers are in Toledo and Valencia. In the end, she took the slab of ham and said that it would be thrown away. It was really a shame.

Edited by Haninger (log)
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Those relaxed rules apply to those producers willing to go through the red tape and inspections necessary to win approval or licensing for export to the US. It used to be that only canned meats were permitted to accompany tourists, even though a number of cured meats were allowed to be imported via commercial avenues. The regulations are always subject to change when outbreaks of animal diseases occur and sometimes, although unacknowledged, there are political reasons behind the enforcement of bans. I've had discussions about this with my local Italian source who does much of his own importing from Italy. New regulations are passed, old ones are enforced with new vigor and he finds himself unable to get the products he used to from time to time.

From tienda.com:

Until recently there were no Serrano hams in the U.S. and we are proud to carry all that are available.

Until now there has not been a slaughterhouse and curing facility in Spain that conforms to the exacting standards of the US Department of Agriculture. Our goal has been to secure a firm commitment from a Spanish company to build such a facility to produce Jamón Iberico. This is a far more complicated process than the one followed by La Tienda to bring the first Jamón Serrano to homes across America.

Amigo Foods also offers a serano ham. http://store.amigofoods.com/jaseseham.html

I tried some of the Redondo Iglesias jamón at the fancy food show in NYC a couple of days ago. It was very good, but it reminded me more of prosciutto than the jamon serrano I've had in Sspain. It may have been the aging, the mechanical slicing or any number of other factors including a palate that had been exposed to pickles, olives, cheese and a number of other strong flavors.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Haninger-

Welcome to the eGullet Society and sorry for your loss. That really sucks. The person you spoke with on the phone is probably not that informed or probably does not care to verify exactly what is and is not allowed to be brought in. Iberico is still a no no unfortunatly. That is why I did not dare buy and bring any back with me in May. I did however bring a few dried sausages, but I did not "really" declare them, not on paper. When they asked me what I am bringing in I said "cheese and sausage", the csutoms agent did not even ask me to see the products.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Now thay I have consumed all my Spanish meats the USA is safe. Fortunetly my small amount of meat for personal consumption did nothing to destroy the US Agriculture industry. Maybe if the US Customs were based on reality instead of some rigid set of arbitrary rules set by old men and women in suits in DC who are pressured to believe that the US Pork lobby is correct when they preach the dangers of foreign pork products allowed in the USA. After all, everyone knows that Europeans are dropping dead all over the EU from the transfer of meats from one EU country to another. There are many stealth ways to "import" meats for yourself when returning to US.

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

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There are no "relaxed rules" for Ibérico ham in the US. The only thing that's changed (and it's important because it unblocks the situation) is that the USDA has recently given permission to the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture to inspect candidate slaughterhouses and certify those that meet USDA regulations. Once certified, they can start producing ham for the US. Considering the legal aging periods, even if the Ministry acts quickly and certifies a couple of slaughterhouses in the next few months, there won't be any Ibérico on the US market before 2007 or so.

Right now, declaring Spanish ham or pork products at US Customs is a surefire method to lose it all.

http://elmundovino.elmundo.es/elmundovino/...icia=1119251191

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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I agree, but after some discussion with the Customs agent, I was shown a binder with the rules of what was allowed. There were four factories listed in Spain from which "Serrano" or "Iberico" could be imported. I imagine that these factories only cure ham that has been raised and slaughtered in Holland or Denmark. Given this, the use of the word "Iberico" as permitted product was confusing, but it was listed nonetheless. Again, this was just the binder that the Customs agents were using, not the federal code, which I imagine is quite precise. My sense is that there was some confusion among the Customs agents.

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  • 2 weeks later...
This article in today's NYT, deals more with Iberico rather than Sichuan peppers.

Elie

From that article by Florence Fabricant:

Serrano hams, which have been available in the United States for several years, are cured in Spain, but the pigs are raised in Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland and slaughtered there.
That's always been my understanding, but when I spoke with the person at the Redondo Iglesias booth at the Fancy Food Show in NY recently, she assured me that their pigs were not only slaughtered but raised in Spain. Looking at the Tienda Serrano ham page I don't see that claim made for the Redondo Iglesias ham. Indeed, they go on at length about the curing, but say little about the raising or breeding.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Bux, Perhaps they have export division and EU division? Swine raised in Spain is still verboten in USA. I read once that they can be slaughtered in Spain and cured but must be raised / bred in the countries you listed. Can not remember where I read that though and it was a couple of years ago at least. As you know what passes for Serrano Ham here in USA is pretty sad.

With new Bioterrorism laws it will be even harder to change any import rules for food. I spoke with two Importers here in California, one wine the other food. They are both getting out of the import trade due to impossible regulations. They believe it is one more attempt to crush small bussines' and leave little or no competition for the giant Agribussines' that donate millions of dollars to the Govt. ( both sides of the aisle).

On an unrelated note I just learned about buying shares in a COW. http://tinyurl.com/ctyqu Not for beef, but for dairy. This is to circumvent the Raw milk restrictions. Maybe small farmers will survive if they are crafty enough.

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

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Bux, Perhaps they have export division and EU division?

I suspect they do, but the Fancy Food Show was in NYC and they were serving samples of the ham they were exporting to the US. Their answer seemed to be that the ham they were distributing in the US was raised and slaughtered in Spain. It may be that person to whom I spoke was misinformed or not really a spokes person for them.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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No ham from Spanish-raised pigs is sold in the US today - period. As for the future Ibérico, please go back to my July 18 post.

BTW, the Parma/Ibérico part of this thread, if seen from anywhere but the US, where Ibérico is mostly an urban legend since it can't be found, gets funnier every day. In Europe, the greatness of Joselito as the best ham producer in the world is now a basic tenet of every foodie's credo! My Italian friends come to Salamanca in pilgrimage just to see the place...

Edited by vserna (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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