Madrid – The Jamon Capitol of the world
I am a big breakfast person. When i wake up in a good hotel, the thought that gets me out of bed on a winter morning is the thought of loading up on a good breakfast. The vision of a long breakfast buffet spread for me is one of the closest thing to heaven as it gets. In that buffet, when i get past the fresh juices and the fresh fruit – my favourite part comes up – Bacon, sausages, cold meats and eggs. I have always loved the thin slices of salty ham in various buffets around the world but I must admit that the one I first had in Madrid ( Hotel Presiados – this buffet breakfast gets a 5 star rating from me!) had me hooked on immediately!
The spanish Jamon is coveted thru the world and is almost the national food of the country. There are mainly two types of Jamon – the one that comes from the mountains called the Jamon Serrano and the other one which comes from the South & South west of Spain – called the Jamon Iberico. The Iberico version comes from the black pigs which are fed exclusively on a diet of acorns during their last days and is far more expensive than the Serrano variety.
The Jamon is basically the hind legs of the pigs which are cured after slaughter. Sea-salt is used to cure the meat initially for about a week or two. After that it is rinsed and again left to dry – some even upto 2 years. These are then packed and sold all over Spain and also exported.
There are now eateries and museums dedicated to this delicious food – the Jamon. If you are in Madrid, visit any of the Museo De Jamon eateries spread around the city. There is one at the Plaza Mayor ( watch an amateur Video)
Ofcourse, if you are a connoisseur, dont let anyone deter you from spending your well earned money at the very stylish Mercado de San Miguel – which once almost fell to rust and desolation – is now a thriving, catchy looking glass & wrought iron structure that houses many boutique food stores. In the evening it turns into a rows of beer drinking & Tapas eating crowds. You can find the freshest sea- food, the best tapas and ofcourse the best Jamon here. Walk thru Mercado de San Miguel with Anthony Bourdain. And here is my amateur picture of the Mercado:
Break-time for the Chef 🙂
If you are not visiting Madrid and only going to Barcelona or are also visiting Barcelona, get your fill of looking at Jamon in the beautiful indoor fruit and food market on Las Ramblas – La Bouqueria. Pick up one of the amazing 1 Eu fresh juice concoctions and feast your eyes on the rows of beautiful Jamon being sold just as i did…..