La Historia de Jamón !

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Spain is home to some of the most delicious food I have ever eaten! When I was first planning my trip to Spain, I dreamt of paella and churros. However, my research also

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Lord Froggington was examining the menu.

pointed me to a mystical Jamón Iberico. This ham was to die for! While I love to eat, I also love learning about my food. For that experience, I visited Museo Ibericus in Benidorm, Spain.

At the half restaurant, half cured-ham classroom, I was taught what to look for if I were to ever purchase my own Jamón Iberico. There are four Denominacion de Origen to be aware of when selecting a ham: Guijuelo, Huela, Extremadura, and (Valle de los) Pedroaches.  These areas are located in Southwestern  Spain, and if your ham doesn’t have this stamp of approval, this is not the ham you are looking for! Another thing to look for is the pata negra, or black hoof. While there are white-hooved pigs being cured into delicious hams, Jamón Iberico is specifically known for the pata negra so don’t be tricked!

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It is important to know where your jamon comes from!

Lastly, like your grass-fed beef, it matters what your Iberian pig grazes on! The most praised is Jamón Iberico de Bellota. Bellota translates to acorns, which is the sole sustenance of these free-range pigs. There is also de Cebo, which is when the pig grazes on a combination of acorns and seeds.

So what does this divine treat taste like? The thinly, hand-sliced ham is meatier, drier, and not as salty as its counterpart Jamón Serrano and the Italian prosciutto. The fat is thick and has a melt-in your mouth consistence. It is so simple yet so delicious that it really stands alone. Pair with some cheese and bread, and you have a full meal on your hands!

Now you are better-versed in the world of Jamón Iberico, you may be asking where you can find this wonderful treat outside of Spain (and Portugal, though I didn’t go there). I can only speak for the US, but it has been available here since 2007! It is very expensive (often over 100 USD per a pound), but I think a small sample size is worth the 20 dollars. I was able to track some down at HEB, but it can be found at tapas restaurants as well. And if that isn’t your style, you can always find your way to Spain where the it is readily available and reasonably priced!

Museo Ibericus is located at Av. Armada Española, 21, 03502 Benidorm, Alicante, Spain. You can reach them at +34 966 81 16 39

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Space Food and SkyLab Butter Cookies

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Here at Odyssey of Flavors we like to give our followers a worldly reading experience. But sometimes that just isn’t enough, and that is when you have to leave our lovely planet and go into space! And who better to do that than me, their resident aerospace engineer!

Food has also been a big topic of conversation for anyone exposed to the space world because of how vital it is to human beings. Can you imagine being told to eat an entire meal through a toothpaste tube? Talk about a yucky situation! But that is exactly what the Mercury astronauts of the early 1960s had to go through. Today, meals are designed to be a lot more palatable because of the length of current missions (astronauts typically stay on the International Space Station for 6 months at a time). Astronauts also have a variety of options ranging from ramen to borscht with meat to shrimp cocktail (an astronaut favorite). 

Just add water for some Oolong Tea!

Packaging has also evolved. Gone are the days of toothpaste tubes and tiny 1-cubic-inch freeze-dried sandwiches! A large amount of meals are sealed in plastic pouches and then freeze dried to preserve the food and flavor (it also helps make it lighter because weight is everything when launching a rocket). One would simply add hot water to prepare the meal.

While the types of food are akin to those on Earth, adjustments are made to provide appropriate nutritional value in a microgravity environment. For example, food needs extra calcium and vitamin D because bones don’t get as much exercise on orbit. Astronauts also need 100 percent of their daily vitamins and minerals.

While astronaut meals are required to be healthy, it doesn’t mean they are not allowed to have an indulgent snack once in a while. Astronaut Edward Gibson considered butter cookies to be the basic monetary unit in the economic system of SkyLab. Not only were the little cookies popular with the astronauts, but they were also easy to store and produce and did not contain any significant amounts of nutrients that could affect the metabolic studies being conducted during the mission. The following recipe is from Charles Bourland’s The Astronaut’s Cookbook. Be sure make your cookies bite-size, otherwise you might have crumbles floating all over your space station! 😉 

(click below to read more!)

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