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Friends, even though the Chinese wish to emulate our “jamón” and, in the oak groves of Texas, the Americans are already at it, I am not overstating myself by saying Spain is without a doubt the mother of all “jamones de pata negra”. Even more so now that the Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Environment granted for the first time the “Spanish Food Award to the Best Jamón of 2016”, the categories were “Jamón de bellota ibérico” and “Jamón Serrano or other Acknowledged Quality Figures”. The winner for the “Jamón de bellota ibérico” was the Jamón de bellota 100% ibérico “Encinares del Sur” from the protected designation of origin Los Pedroches (Córdoba). As of today we can officially state that Córdoba is home to the best Jamón in the World.

I am truly sorry for our dethroned brothers in Huelva, they will have to settle with being the Spanish Gastronomy capital this year.

In order to understand the reasons for this success it is highly recommended to travel the region. The northern half of Córdoba, starting from the very capital, presents us with an extensive country of hills and meadows barely explored by secondary roads. A raw spectacle of Nature that, for the most part, remains untouched and unknown; and the natural source of wealth that contributed to make a rich Roman and Islamic cultural center out of Córdoba. The Sierra Morena of Córdoba is almost entirely devoted to ranching and cattle, from large hunting grounds to  the breeding of fighting bulls, through the bovine cattle for milk and meat, and, of course, the Iberian pig. A pig growing free and feeding on the sweet and abundant montanera*. This, coupled with the high degree of skill and knowledge that our agricultural cooperatives muster, are the key factors to this well deserved prize for the best Jamón in the World.

 Traveler's note:
Every single one of the “jamones” and meat products that come from the Valle de los Pedroches are of excellent quality. All along the street of Alfonso XIII, very close from Tendillas square, in an almost guildy fashion, shops gather to sell these exquisite meat delicacies directly from their agricultural producers. The perfect street to buy treasures from Sierra Morena.

 (*) Montanera refers to the last breeding stage of the Iberian pig and consists on letting the pig graze freely in the meadows between the oak groves, where the traditional fattening on a diet of fallen acorns happens. The slaughter of the pig will then take place from October to February.


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