So you can understand what makes Iberian ham special
About this Guide
Travel guidebooks for the ultra curious, Approach Guides reveal a destination’s essence by exploring a compelling aspect of its cultural heritage: art, architecture, history, food or wine.
In the culinary world, no ham rivals Spain’s jamón ibérico in flavor or texture. Made from Iberian pigs raised on a diet of acorns in the woodlands (dehesa) of the country’s southwest, it must be tasted to be believed.
This guide explores everything that makes jamón ibérico special: the native purebreed pigs, the man-made dehesa ecosystem, the rearing system and the ham-making process. We save the most interesting part for last, demystifying the many classes of products so you know exactly what to look for when on location in Spain. For a food-loving traveler aiming to eat local, this guide is a must-have reference.
What’s in this guide
- Context. We begin by providing context, describing the Iberian pig and the dehesa woodland ecosystem that supports it.
- The ham itself. Having set the stage, we review how the pigs are reared and their unique diet. We then walk step by step through the ham-making process and the range of products available.
- Advice for getting the best culinary experience. This guide supplies a map of Spain’s four Iberian ham-producing denominations and links to online resources where you can explore specific topics in more detail. Finally, we give our personal tips — including what to look for when purchasing and even wine pairing — for getting the most from your experience on location.
- Information the way you like it. As with all of our products, this guide is optimized for intuitive, quick navigation; information is organized into bullet points to make absorption easy; and high-quality images are used to illustrate key points.