Sunday, 7 February 2016

Mountain ham

Jambon de Montagne or mountain ham is unlike some of the other cured hams I identified in a previous piece, because it does not come from a particular location (such as Parma ham, Iberico ham and Bayonne ham, the last of which I do not recall ever having eaten). On the other hand, as I have just discovered, it means precisely the same thing as Jamon de Serrano. I rather like it in Spanish omelettes. Delicious.
French mountain ham, though, is in my view different to its Spanish counterpart. Definitely more robust, less delicate but none the worse for that. My mother occasionally bought an entire mountain ham in the suparket when we were on holiday and there would always be enough remaining on the bone to smuggle home. Delicious. I recall taking a baguette with olive oil and mountain ham - nothing else - which I took on a walk with my mother to an old ruin on a hilltop while my father waited patiently with the car, not fancying the climb.
Less pleasantly but as memorable was the occasion when my aunt CeCe who had brought home the remains of an entire mountain ham and planned to chop some into some pasta discovered to her horror little things wriggling inside which turned out to be maggots feasting away. She placed the entire bone in the middle of the lawn and sprayed it liberally with insect repellent. What a waste. But it has made a good family story - you just have to mention maggots or ham - and for my fortieth birthday, CeCe presented me with a large quantity of packets of mountain ham...into which she had introduced a collection of plastic flies.

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