Pata Negra: Translation? Black pig ham legs (and lots of 'em)
When Delora lived in the States, she thought ham was beneath her. She remembers a childhood filled with nightmarish holiday meals at her Aunt's house, featuring molded ham from a can decorated with maraschino cherries. Those days ensured that Delora would never voluntarily eat pink meat again.
Photo courtesy: Tay
Delora first tasted Iberian Pata Negra de Bellota at a friend's house just after arriving in Spain. Eager to avoid appearing fussy and priggish, she took a big bite and was delighted to find that the Pata Negra didn't even taste like meat -- it tasted like nuts! Delora found herself hogging the whole platter of pricey meat as though making up for a lifetime of Pata Negra deprivation. Later, when Delora couldn't stop craving the stuff, she did some research and this is what she found: Iberico pigs roam on grazing lands in Western Spain populated by encina trees (holm oak) and are only allowed to eat acorns.
If you want to know more about Iberico Jamon de Bellota, read this article: Guardian Article
Their meat is high in Omega 3 fatty acids! It's actually healthy to eat the ham here (and good for Delora's recuperation diet!) Some marketers people call Iberico pigs "olives on legs", or something cute like that. Plus, they're are massaged with a special oil every night after being given a pint of beer. Wait, that's Kobe beef. Okay, there's no massaging pigs here, but Delora personally guarantees that if you can ever get your lips on a piece of this stuff, it's worth the ticket to Spain.
Look what my friends have in their Spanish kitchens:
Spanish Status Symbol(Delora wants one of these badly and imagines that she would cover the hoof with a little American flag bandana.)
And if you're a vegetarian? Lucky for you, there are a variety of vegetarian ham products available for you! The entire snack food industry has capitalized on the country's love of ham and has added a line impossible to find in the states: Fritos con jamon, Doritos con jamon, potato chips con jamon...