Saturday, December 15, 2012
SLICING SPANISH HAM
I’m like a kid on the night before Christmas, excitement mounting, as I await delivery of my Spanish ham.
Not just any ham, but for the first time ever, a certified ibérico de bellota ham, made from the esteemed ibérico breed of pig that is raised free-range and fattened on acorns.
While waiting, I am boning up on how to slice ham with the sumptuously illustrated book,
SLICING SPANISH HAM—Mastering the Fine Art of Slicing Spanish Ham, by Pilar Esteban Odorica.
I did the translation for the English edition of Pilar’s book, which takes you through every step, using photographs of master ham slicers to demonstrate the procedures. The photos (both serrano and ibérico hams are pictured) will have you drooling.
Pilar studied design, graphic arts and photography in England, then settled in Marbella (Costa del Sol) where she built a professional career with clients in the hotel and tourism sector. I met Pilar back in the 1980s when she was art director for Lookout Magazine, where I was a regular contributor.
“During the preparation of this book,” Pilar says, “I spent many hours watching professional slicers work. I photographed them slicing whole hams while they explained, step by step, details that otherwise I would never have known. As the knife's edge separated slice after slice, the blade became covered with fat. The fingers of the maestro, sometimes unconsciously caressing the sides of the ham, took on a sheen as if they were covered with a film of fine silk. Truly, there are many sensory nuances involved in the slicing of a whole ham. Watching from behind the camera lens, I felt like a voyeur peeping through a keyhole, discovering the secrets of this art.”
SLICING SPANISH HAM is available in the US from Kitchen Arts and Letters http://www.kitchenartsandletters.com , in the UK from Spanish Ham Master http://spanishhammaster.co.uk/ or from the author, Pilar Esteban, at www.slicingspanishham.com
If the pictures whet your appetite for authentic Spanish ham, you can order one, either serrano or ibérico, in the US from La Tienda http://www.tienda.com , The Spanish Table http://www.spanishtable.com/ or De España http://www.despanabrandfoods.com/ .
While I locate a ham stand and sharpen my knives, I am planning who to invite over to share my wonderful ham. Maybe Pilar will come and give me some expert tips.