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Purists Are Losing It Over US Version of Spanish Delicacy

It's 'not the same thing at all,' says ham expert in Spain
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2020 11:10 AM CDT
Updated Aug 15, 2020 11:40 AM CDT

(Newser) – Like acorn-fed Iberian ham? Well, now you can try US versions of the Spanish delicacy—a development that culinary purists are none too thrilled about, the Guardian reports. "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," says Constantino Martínez, a ham industry consultant in Spain. "Their real game is to get access to the American market on better terms and at better prices than Spanish producers." For those who don't spend big bucks on ham—like up to $4,500 per leg in 2019—Insider explains that jamón Ibérico is made from black Iberian pigs, a rare breed that's fed mostly acorns.

Then they're hung and dry-cured for up to three years, giving them a unique acorn-inspired flavor: "Taste is nutty," says Claudia Romeo, an Insider video producer. "It's really nice, and especially the fat. ... It's very nice and greasy." The two American companies, Acornseekers and Iberian Pastures, will market their product with the slightly altered names jamón ibérico americano and Ibericus meat. And Iberian Pastures will feed their pigs pecans, peanuts, and sunflower instead of acorns. That's "not the same thing at all," says Martínez, who argues that jamón Ibérico should be a protected denomination like champagne or Japanese wagyu. But America tends to be casual about such things; for example, it sells a homemade version of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese by calling it parmesan. (Read more delicacy stories.)

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