11.360 Jamón Serrano


30 (Wed) December 2020

Jamón Serrano


by me

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

Newbery 100 Medals, 100 Meals (29) (see 100 NEWBERY M&Ms)

While reading the 99 books that have been awarded the annual Newbery Medal since 1922 – leading up to the 100th winner to be announced next year – I will also attempt to create one dish for every book, a dish that is directly referenced in or indirectly inspired by the events of the book.  Food plays a strong role in many of the stories; not surprising as the characters in most of the books are faced with adversity of some sort, including poverty, so they’re often very hungry and thus grateful whenever they get a bite to eat – as we all should be at every meal, literally give us this day our daily bread.  The dishes will be featured as posts on Give Me This Day.

Shadow of a Bull (1965) by Maia Wojciechowska.  Set in the small town of Arcangel, Spain, the book is about 12-year-old Manolo, the son of a local legendary matador who died in the ring when Manolo was 3.  As Manolo comes of age, the town expects him to become a bullfighter, while he struggles with doubts about his bravery and passion.

I enjoyed the book, which presents carefully explores the boy’s dilemma and the complex personal and cultural factors involved – the bullfighting merely a vehicle for the character study.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t really discuss food, even while describing the annual fiesta.

The people of Arcangel are poor.  But they are too proud to quarrel with their fate.  Instead they make war against sadness with songs and dances, with laughter, and with joy at just being alive.  That joy erupts like a volcano once a year during the three-day fiesta.

During the fiesta, Arcangel becomes a chaos of color and music.  The people do not sleep and they do not work during those three days.  Instead they play, they sing, they dance, they laugh.  “Oh, what a feast there’s going to be, and then what hunger we shall see!” goes the old sing that tells the truth about Spanish fiestas.  People save and wait for it; and when it is over, they save and wait again.

Very disappointing, as I’m a huge fan of Spanish cuisine.

950 grams of meat.

In a recent post, I had noted that jamón serrano “is prohibitively expensive and extremely difficult to carve” (see 11.350 Big Loaf of Bread + Ham, the Big One).

Takes a few seconds of assembly: the clamp is screwed into the board, then the bolt is drilled by hand into the base of the ham.

A few days later, I came across mini jamón kits at E-Mart.  By Spanish producer Nico.  Genuine jamón serrano.  Includes a cutting board and clamping device to keep the ham in place, along with a razor-sharp knife.  39,500 won.

This would be awesome for a dinner party.

It was pretty good.  Whether due to the sharpness of the knife or the tenderness of the meat (or the sureness of my hand), the ham came away in thin slices, not quite paper thin but thin enough.  The texture was moist yet firm, a bit of chew.  The flavor was a salty and porky, both in good ways.  And so much fun.   I should buy like 10 of these, keep them in the fridge, and bust them out for special occasions.

Jamón Risotto with Creamy Risotto and Truffle Oil

If I hadn’t already done meatballs for Ginger Pye (see 11.335 A Certain Lady’s Mincemeat), I might’ve made albondigas and called them Rocky Mountain Oysters as an obvious joke in reference to the book’s bullfighting theme.

Jamón Serrano will have to suffice.

(See also FOODS.)

(See also PLACES.)

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