Erasmus student Meryl Geugies met expert ham cutter Sylvain Foucaud. Cutting ham by hand is a skill lost to many parts of Spain, which Foucaud hopes to revive through his new Jamón cutting classes.
Sylvain Foucaud cutting a ham Photo: Rahel Schnuriger.
How to cut a typical Spanish ham? If you always wanted to know, you will soon have a chance to learn.
According to Jamón expert Sylvain Foucaud it is very difficult to cut a typcial Serrano or 'Iberico' ham: “It is about respecting the meat," he explains.
"It takes a long time and good care before you can eat it. If you cut it with a machine you get ordinary slices and the ham gets warm from the machine and the quality will be bad. By cutting it by hand you respect the meat and tradition of meat cutting and get great ham.”
The first lessons of the Jamon slicing have taken place recently and Jon Warren, the founder of San Sebastian Food where the classes take place, is enthusiastic. “The people liked the (trial) class very much so we want to have the classes regularly during next year.”
Slicing hams by hand is an art that has been all but forgotten in the Basque Country, though in the Southwest of Spain (especially in Extremadura and Andalusia) they continue to cut ham in the traditional way.
But tourists need more than one lesson to learn how to slice a ham perfectly. “It take three hams before you can cut it properly,” says Foucaud at his speciality food and wine shop Zapore Jai. “You have to do a lot of practice, around eight hours, to get it right.”
ZAPORE JAI San Jeronimo 21 Donostia-San Sebastian (34) 943 422 882