This morning I had for breakfast, thin slices of specially cured ham for the Dordogne region on my toast. I was wonder for my taste buds specially the fat part of the ham which is the main carrier of the flavour. I would sense the explosion of the flavour of the acorns that fed the pig wondering in the wild of the Dordogne fields under the walnut forests. Magnificently cured for some 6 months or wrapped over in a layer of lard and flour to keep the red dark flesh moist and juicy with the right tint of salt.

My first encounter with ‘Jambon cru’ was way back in 1968, when I was visiting Reunion Island in the days of Air India life. As the representative of Air India, I was required to entertain my customers. At the then famous gastronomic restaurant of Hotel Le Labourdonnais in St Denis de la Reunion, on the advice of the chef who was himself from the Basque country, I was initiated to the taste of Bayonne Ham.

Never before had I ever tasted raw cured Ham. In my younger days, ‘jambon bouilli’ was a feast which was reserved for the festive season. My Mum would prepare her version of ham from air cooled salted dried leg of pork imported from Australia. After soaking the ham in water for a couple of days, the leg on the bone was boiled for hours with a concoction of herbs, namely citronella, dark beer. Thereafter the ham was oven baked. The whole ham was studded with clover seeds before being served. The taste of home prepared ham has nothing akin to the ham we get from the supermarket today.

Later I learned to taste Prosciutto di Parma with a slice of melon during my trips to Italy. More recently the pata negra of spain provided me another source of pleasure. Last but not least have you ever tried a shark fin’s meal cooked in Hunan’s ham?


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