Any foodie knows how important jamón, or ham, is in Spanish cuisine. Made from the meat of black Iberian pigs, Spanish ham is a staple of the country's diet and varies in taste depending on the region.
Whichever variety, all Iberian ham is uniquely delicious, a delicacy best experienced in Spain. Why not discover three of the most well-known ibérico hams for yourself on a Spanish holiday in Córdoba, Gredos and Mérida with luxury hotel chain Paradores?
Delicious national pride
Spanish ham is labelled according to its denominación de origen, or designation of origin, a classification system established to confirm both the quality and geographic origin of the food. Much as the denominación de origen serves to confirm that a Rioja wine is actually made in La Rioja, different designations exist to document the origin of ibérico hams. An important factor, given that the different conditions to which the black Iberian pig is exposed from province to province influences the final flavour of the ham.
A tour of Spain, one jamón at a time
The best way to get to know the differences between Spanish hams is to journey to their region of origin. Jamón de Guijuelo, for example, from the Gredos mountain range where the weather is cold and dry, is usually air-dried within cellars. More than half of all Spanish ham hails from this region, and while the drying time varies, full legs of ham are usually dried over the course of a year.
Enjoy this meaty treat at Parador Gredos, located in an elegant forest lodge in the mountains. Pair the jamón with other local dishes such as El Barco beans or beef chops, before heading out to explore this area's enticing landscape.
Dehesa de Extremadura ham, which is typical of Extremadura, is made from pigs who feast on fallen acorns from the regions mighty oak trees. Delight in its divine taste while staying at Parador Mérida, situated in an 18th-century convent in the heart of the city of Mérida, which boasts Roman ruins that date back over 2,000 years.
In Córdoba, relax in the city's Parador, built upon the remains of a Muslim caliph's summer palace. Take a dip in the pool or a stroll around Los Naranjos - a garden which hosts the oldest palm trees in Europe - before seeking out the region's famed jamón de los Pedroches.
Los Pedroches ham has a reddish-purple colour and is renowned for its strong, rich taste. It's an ideal match with some Cordoban salmorejo - a chilled tomato soup- followed by some local grilled meats in Parador Córdoba's restaurant.
Have an appetite for Spanish ham? Contact Paradores today.