Pork is the top
consumed protein in the world with over 99 million tons consumed last
year. And there is good reason. It’s absolutely delicious. It’s also incredibly versatile in the things
you can do with it. Different cultures
all over the world have all taken to finding their own ways to get the most
from the beautiful pig and from that we get today’s topic. Today we are going to discuss Ham. Not just ham but the complete A-Z of
ham. So without further adieu let us dig
Traces of production of ham has been found in Tuscany, in the Etruscan
civilization and dates back to the fifth century BC. In
De Agricultura Cato described the process of making
cured ham, in Latin called perexutus, that meant “without any liquids”.
Bayonne Ham is an air dried salted ham that takes its name from the ancient
port city of Bayonne in the far South West of France. The city is located in
both the Basque Country and Gascony. The hams were rubbed in salt produced in
the salt pans of the
Also known as boiled ham, the meat is cured, shaped, and cooked in steam or
water. A ham that has been heated during some part of the processing to an
internal temperature exceeding 58°C (137°F) but less than 64°C (148° F) is
defined partially cooked. If the temperature exceeds this upper limit the ham
is then called full-cooked.
Dry-cured is a meat preservation process applied to ham production. Through
dry-curing, the ham can be stored for several months. The raw materials and the
ripening conditions have a significant influence on the final texture and
flavor. Drying can occur simply by exposing ham to air, or through smoking
Eisleker Ham or
Jambon d'Oesling is a specialty from the Oesling
region in the north of
Luxemburg. Traditionally, it was prepared by
marinating the hams in herbs and vinegar for several days, then hanging them in
a chimney for long periods of cold smoking.
Ham and pork meat in general is strictly forbidden (or highly restricted) according
to different religions: Jewish, Islam, Seven-Day Adventists, the Ethiopian
Orthodox Church and Rastafarian traditions exclude pork from diet.
You can obtain excellent ham from goose, also knows as “kosher ham”. It was
recently officially approved by Rabbis (the official leader of Jewish
congregation) and introduced into kosher diet.
Ham on Rye
Ham on Rye is an autobiographical novel by American author Charles Bukowsky. Written in
Bukowski’s characteristically straightforward prose, the novel tells of his
Los Angeles during the Great Depression.
In Istria (a region shared by
Slovenia) ham is
protected by origin, made only with natural herbs (garlic, sea salt, bay leaf,
black pepper), and dried without smoke. It is covered with green mold and
without fat and skin.
Spain produces some of the most acclaimed hams (in Spanish jamon). There are
two big families of jamon:
iberico. The first one is
obtained from white pig, jamon iberico from the black Iberian pig.
Slicing cured ham by knife is an art, and even after the introduction of meat
slicers, for some kinds of ham – especially the most seasoned – is the best way
to cut slices. Louis XVIII of
France was very proud of his ability to slice ham with a knife. He used to say
that before he became king (in 1814) cutting ham was his favorite pastime.
Lacón Gallego is a dried ham product from Galicia region, in Spain. The product
is only made with the shoulder, rather than the whole leg, as is usual with
There's a famous quote by the American writer Marc Twain that is supposed to
have been said during a coach-trip across United States: “Ham and eggs ... ham
and eggs and scenery, a 'down grade,' a flying coach, a fragrant pipe and a
contented heart—these make happiness. It is what all the ages have struggled
Norcia is a little town in Umbria, Italy, renowned for the production of ham.
The fame was so wide spread that in the central regions of Italy, like
Lazio (Rome) the shops dedicated exclusively to ham
The oldest ham is more than a hundred years old. It was produced in 1900 by
Pembroke Decatur Gwaltney, Jr., scion
Gwaltney Foods Empire. He wanted to see how long the Gwaltney
curing process would keep it "alive." Mr Galway died in 1936, his ham
is still with us.
One of the most appreciated hams is
Prosciutto di Parma, a dry-cured ham
produced in the province of Parma, in northern Italy. It distinguishes itself
for having less salt than other dry-cured ham. The seasoning process lasts at
least 14 months up to 24 months for the best ones.
Marco Polo reported the preparation of cured ham in China in
but China's ham tradition was developed under the Qing Dinasty, starting from
1644. One of the best-known Chinese hams is the
Jinhua ham, a dry-cured
ham used to prepare an energetic dish known as “Buddha jumps over the wall”.
Raw ham refers to pork that has been cured using salt and air but not using a smoking
process. It is also known as dry-curing.
At the Ermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, there's a painting by Pablo Picasso named
but also know as
The Ham. It was painted in 1912 with oil and sawdust on
Prague Ham is a salt-cured ham that is smoked over beech wood. It was produced
for the first time in the capital of Czech in the beginning of 19th century but
it became an Italian specialty thanks to his production in the town of Trieste,
which, just like Prague, was part of Austria-Hungary until 1918. Prague ham is
usually sold warm and sliced by knife.
Council of the Parmense Industrial Union is an organization founded in 1963 to
promote the original Parma Ham and defend it from counterfeiting. The Union
rules the regulation for the production of the protected designation of origin
Green Eggs and Ham is one of Seuss's
"Beginner Books", written in a very simple vocabulary for beginning
readers. The vocabulary of the text consists of just 50 different words and was
the result of a bet between Seuss and a friend of his. Published in 1960 it
became the 4th-best-selling English-language children's book of all
The Wiltshire cure is a traditional English technique for curing bacon and ham.
The technique originated in the 18th century in Calne, Wiltshire. Originally it
was a dry cure method that involved applying salt to the meat for 14 days.
Storing the meat in cold rooms meant that less salt was needed.
A Christmas ham or Yule ham is a traditional ham dish associated with modern
Christmas, Yule and Fennoscandian Jul. It dates back to Germanics as a tribute
to a god associated with fertility. It was later popularized by the Catholic
Church as a test of truthful conversion from Judaism (that prohibits the
consumption of pork).
Xuanwei Ham, produced in
Xuanwei county in the northeastern
in China, has a history of more than 250 years. The salt coming from western
Yunnan also contributes to the deliciousness of Xuanwei Ham. Shaped like lutes,
it is also known as “lute pettitoes.”
The Zlatibor region, a mountain region of Serbia, feels the influences of
Mediterranean and continental climates; the mixing of winds from the sea and
from the mountain is one of the main reason for production of quality ham.
Delicatessen products include beef, swine and sheep ham.
you have it! The A-Z of ham in all its
glory. I would like to try a cure my own
ham using the local Abaco wild hog. That
gives me something to shoot for this summer!
Until next week, remember there’s more to food than cooking and
Tim Tibbitts is the
chef and owner of Flying Fish Modern Seafood in Freeport Bahamas. Flying Fish is the #1 rated restaurant in the
Bahamas on tripadvisor.com. You can see
what Flying Fish is all about at
and follow Tim on twitter @flyingfishfreep