Spain is not just a country; it's an experience. And among the many experiences that this beautiful country offers, its gastronomy stands out, with Jamón taking the center stage. Known as one of the most iconic foods of Spain, Jamón, or cured ham, is an art that has been perfected over centuries. Let's embark on a journey to understand and appreciate this Spanish delicacy.

The Origins of Jamón

The tradition of curing ham dates back to the Roman times, but it was under the Moorish rule in Spain that this culinary practice became widespread. The method involved salting the meat and hanging it in cool, dry places. This not only preserved the meat but also gave it a unique and intense flavor.

Types of Spanish Ham

There are two primary types of cured ham in Spain: Jamón Serrano and Jamón Ibérico.

  • Jamón Serrano: Also known as 'mountain ham', this ham is made from the Landrace breed of white pigs. It's typically cured for about a year and has a deep red color and a slightly salty flavor.

  • Jamón Ibérico: Often referred to as 'pata negra' (black hoof), this ham is made from the native black Iberian pig. Depending on the diet of the pigs, Jamón Ibérico can be further classified into Jamón Ibérico de Bellota (acorn-fed) and Jamón Ibérico de Cebo (grain-fed). The acorn-fed variety is especially prized for its rich flavor and marbled texture.

The Art of Curing

The process of curing is what sets Jamón apart. After slaughtering, the hams are first salted and left to drain for about two weeks. They are then rinsed and left to dry for another six weeks. After this initial phase, the real magic begins. The hams are hung in cellars or drying sheds known as ‘secaderos’ for a period ranging from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the type and desired characteristics.

Savoring the Experience

When you first taste a slice of Jamón, especially if it's a high-quality one, you'll notice its rich, melt-in-the-mouth texture. The flavors are complex – sweet, nutty, and slightly salty. The best way to enjoy Jamón is in thin slices, perhaps with a chunk of Spanish cheese or a glass of sherry.


Jamón is more than just food for the Spaniards; it's a symbol of their rich culinary heritage. The dedication and craftsmanship that go into making each ham are a testament to Spain's commitment to preserving its age-old traditions. So, the next time you savor a piece of this Spanish delicacy, remember the art and history that have shaped its exquisite taste.

October 26, 2023 — Gabriel Velez Quinones