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Big Picture

A cut above the rest

Spain's Iberico hams are today increasingly sought after worldwide, particularly among Chinese consumers concerned about the safety of their home-grown food.

Spain's producers, in fact, took great umbrage at the World Health Organisation's attempt to lump their luxury ham together with cheaper products such as processed sausages and hamburger meat.

Cinco Jotas (above), in Jabugo, Spain, is among the country's leading producers of this ham seen here hung from the ceiling and on the walls. A single leg of the finest ham from Cinco Jotas - weighing almost 8kg - costs about US$670 (S$945) in Spain and about double that in the United States. Even the way the ham is sliced is considered something of an art form.

The WHO, in a recent report, linked processed meats to colorectal cancer. The news came as an affront to many Spaniards, who have been eating cured hams produced this way for generations.

The way pigs of Spain's Iberico breed are fed and raised is a far cry from how most meats are produced almost anywhere, making the cured ham a delicacy prized for its texture and taste, which is enhanced by the sweet and nutty flavour of the acorns the pigs eat.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2015, with the headline 'A cut above the rest'. Print Edition | Subscribe