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36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel gerrydawesspain.com

"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life. . .” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019

4/18/2021

The Master Ham Carvers of Spain By Gerry Dawes, Mariani´s Virtual Gourmet - Part I of II

 
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Mariani´s Virtual Gourmet (Click on link.)
 
Clemente Gómez, Maestro Cortador Oficial de Pedroches at Alimentaria Barcelona.
 
Maestros Cortadores de Jamón are men (and a few women cortadoras) who actually specialize in carving Spanish jamón Ibérico de bellota hams—costing $600 to $800 apiece—into paper-thin slices that literally melt in your mouth.  The jamones they so expertly carve come from free-range pata negra (black hoof) Ibérico pigs that fatten themselves on acorns in the vast oak tree-endowed dehesas in southwestern Spain.  These hams are Spain’s gastronomic equivalent of the best foie-gras from France and caviar from the Caspian Sea. At special events, food fairs, private parties and even weddings, Spain’s cortadores de jamón, literally ham cutters, or ham carvers as I prefer to call them, may earn from $250 to $4,000 for slowly slicing a ham by hand over a couple of hours into thin, sometimes almost translucent serving pieces, one exquisite slice at a time.    (Read the rest of the article by clicking on the title link to John Mariani's Virtual Gourmet.)
 
  
A fenómeno who stands apart from other ham carvers is Florencio Sanchidrián, a 59-year old force-of-nature from the historic provincial capital of Ávila.
 
From the end of one of his long carving knives Florencio Sanchidrián offers Gerry Dawes a bit of ham he has just cut at his restaurant el Rincón de Jabugo in Ávila.  Photograph by John Sconzo (DocSconz)©2021. 
 
 
 Gerry Dawes with Iberico Pigs on the Dehesa de Extremadura near Montánchez (Cáceres) during la montanera, the months’ long period when they are allowed to forage free-range  on acorns. Photograph by John Sconzo (DocSconz)©2021.
 
 
Ibérico pigs foraging for bellotas (acorns) on the Dehesa de Extremaudura near Montánchez (Cáceres).  
 
 
 
 Pedro Seco, Oficial Cortador of Carrasco Guijuelo at Madrid Fusión 2018.  
 
 
 
 Jesus Gonzalez, Cortador Oficial D. O. P.  Dehesa de Extremadura at Madrid Fusión 2018.

 

 

Sometimes, if there is a bumper crop of acorns the pigs can engorge themselves to the point that this vegetable-like oil actually pools between layers of their muscles and can cause problems for the pigs. One day a few years ago during a lull when he was cutting jamones at the Pedroches stand at Barcelona’s sprawling biennial Alimentaria food fair, Pedroches Maestro Cortador Clemente Gómez, pointed out a pool of oil seeping out from the muscles of a ham he was cutting and told me, “If these pigs eat too many acorns during la montanera, the two to three months they are allowed to roam free-range in the hills of Extremadura and northern Andalucía foraging on grass, plants, herbs and a slew of acorns—the oleic acid they produce from the nuts can seep out from their muscles and make it painful for them to walk.”
 
I longed for a spoon and a small container to take away some of the essence of acorn oil from the ham Clemente Gómez was cutting.  At Madrid Fusión 2018, one of the world’s top gastronomic conferences, I saw that someone had finally packaged this oil for use in kitchens, but the aceite de jamón Ibérico they were offering is actually ham fat melted in olive and/or sunflower oil and is not the real pure essence that Clemente Gómez showed me.
 
Some ham carvers prefer a Japanese alveolated jamonero knife, often referred to as a cuchillo de salmon, a cured-salmon cutting knife.
 
Comments are welcome and encouraged.
 
 If you enjoy these blog posts, please consider a contribution to help me continue the work of gathering all this great information and these photographs for Gerry Dawes's Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel. Contributions of $5 and up will be greatly appreciated. Contributions of $100 or more will be acknowledged on the blog.   Please click on this secure link to Paypal to make your contribution.
 
Text and photographs copyright by Gerry Dawes©2021.  Using photographs without crediting Gerry Dawes©2021 on Facebook.  Publication without my written permission is not authorized.

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  Shall deeds of Caesar or Napoleon ring
More true than Don Quixote's vapouring?
Hath winged Pegasus more nobly trod
Than Rocinante stumbling up to God?
 
Poem by Archer M. Huntington inscribed under the Don Quixote on his horse Rocinante bas-relief sculpture by his wife, Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington,
in the courtyard of the Hispanic Society of America’s incredible museum at 613 W. 155th Street, New York City.
 _______________________________________________________________________________________________
 Gastronomy Blogs

In 2019, again ranked in the Top 50 Gastronomy Blogs and Websites for Gastronomists & Gastronomes in 2019 by Feedspot. (Last Updated Oct 23, 2019) 

"The Best Gastronomy blogs selected from thousands of Food blogs, Culture blogs and Food Science blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information."  

36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel


 
About Gerry Dawes

My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life." -- Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019


Gerry Dawes is the Producer and Program Host of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio progam on Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, New York (streaming live and archived at www.pawlingpublicradio.org and at www.beatofthevalley.com.)

Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 


". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

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