After many years dreaming of the warm Spanish summers fueled by the imagination of Ernest Hemingway’s A Dangerous Summer, I finally landed in Barcelona which had rather luckily for me traded in its previous week of 36degC days for a slightly more appreciatble 26-29degC. Sure, it may have been summer, but for me it was a welcome upgrade from the rather damp weather of London. And no, unlike the Brits, I wasn’t in Spain to tan my legs orange-brown.
This region of Spain fathered Antoni Gaudi, the termite mound known as the Sagrada Familia and many other smartly designed works of architectural brilliance. However, Barcelona also boasts the busy La Ramblas stretch where you will find a market full of fresh fruit, jamon iberico and little nibble-stops for tapas.
Iberico is incredibly cheap in Barcelona, and we’re not talking about the serrano grade but the free-range acorn-fed aged-for-3-years 5J bellota top-grade jamon (there are also alternative bellota-grade jamons from pigs fed with different feed). Depending on where you purchase it from, it ranges 150-175€ per kg and if you are too lazy to travel to La Ramblas then they are also available from your local Carrefour. At those prices, they are so much cheaper than what is available in Melbourne. An absolute bargain even! Strangely, given the demand for jamon, it might come as a surprise to some that the local Spaniards aren’t the ones fueling demand for this lovely, succulent oily ham. It is international demand for this perceived luxury delicacy that drives the price skyward (up to $1000/kg in some cases). On no occassion dining with locals was Iberico ever ordered as part of a more ‘typical’ food.