Spain/Madrid: Jamon Iberico in Madrid
Jamon is Spanish for dry-cured ham, and the two types are Jamon Serrano from the mountains of eastern Spain and Jamon Iberico from central Spain and Portugal. Jamon Iberico is the more famous of the two and similar to Champagne or Cognac or Porto has a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) classification. Jamon Iberico comes from black Iberian pigs that feed on free ranges and eat almost exclusively on acorns giving the meat specific taste and flavor and marblezation. The meat is air-dried for 24-48 months, much longer then the Italian prosciutto. The four varieties of Jamon Iberico are – just like Johnny Walker – Black Label (aka Bellota, made from purebred free-range black pigs fed exclusively on 100% acorns), Red Label (not so purebred but still all acorn), Green Label (free range pigs that are not purebred and fed with mixture feeds that include some acorn), and White Label (any pigs fed with only grain). This stuff is the best cured meat on earth and then some! Everywhere in Madrid you can try a plate of the delicious thinly-sliced jamon that melts in your mouth. There is even a chain of restaurants called Museo de Jamon that serve the delicacy from the expensive Belotta to other varieties, as well as Spanish cheeses and other cured meats. A meat-lover paradise and vegetarian/Muslim/Jewish nightmare.