munchies.vice.com – Spanish cortador de jamones Florencio Sanchidrián has cut ham for everyone from the King of Spain to Robert De Niro, and considers himself an ambassador for his country’s Iberian ham
He’s cut ham for the world’s elite. From Barack Obama to the King of Spain, Juan Carlos to the “Raging Bull” himself, Robert De Niro—they’ve all savoured the smooth, melt-in-the-mouth sensation of ham sliced by the great cortador de jamones, Florencio Sanchidrián.
The Spaniard considers himself something of an ambassador for his country’s much loved Iberian ham and is said to charge around $4,000 to cut a leg of it. We got in touch with Florencio to find out what makes his slicing skills so special.
MUNCHIES: Hi Florencio. How did you become a professional ham cutter? What does it mean to you? Florencio Sanchidrián: I was working as a waiter and one day, I started cutting ham and really liked it. I continued to learn more and improve my skills until I decided to devote myself, body, and soul to this beautiful profession. The meaning for me, apart from making a living out of it, is to make sure that Spanish Iberian ham is recognised and represented globally. I travel the world attending events where I can educate people about Iberian ham—one of the four gastronomic jewels of cuisine alongside truffles, caviar, and foie gras.
What are the traits of a great cortador de jamones? You must know the product inside out—its breeding and the area where the Iberian pig usually lives and grazes. Before cutting each piece of ham, you should check all of the corresponding labels because they provide all the information we need to know about that specific piece—everything from the birthplace of the pig to where it was stored, plus the humidity and air temperature. Besides all this, a good cortador de jamones should try to manipulate the joint as little as possible and when serving the meat, help people appreciate it with all of their senses.
In the UK, most people have heard of Italian prosciutto but jamón is less understood. What are the main differences? The differences are huge. The pigs where the prosciutto comes from have nothing to do with our Iberian pigs. Iberian pigs are a native Spanish race of black pigs that are raised and bred only in the south west of the country in the Iberian Peninsula. A huge number of them live freely or partially roam free and make the most of the resources of the land, where they graze acorns and grasses. Feeding on these plants is what gives each piece its characteristic colour, flavour, aroma, and fatty texture that melts in the mouth.
And what are the differences between Iberian ham (jamón Ibérico) and mountain ham (jamones serranos)? The same differences as there are between Iberian ham and any other ham type like prosciutto, Parma, or Bayonne—which are called mountain hams (jamones serranos). The main difference with Iberian ham is the breed of pig used, the living environment, and the curing process time—anywhere between 18 to 36 months, which is twice or more than the maturation time of a regular serrano ham.
Only Read About Half Of The Article. I Know One Thing Ain’t No Piece Of Ham Worth That Damn Much PSB Or Not. $4,000.00 Better Buy Me 773 Pigs. I Can Pay The Dude at The Deli To Cut My Shit For $177.73. I Don’t Care How The Pig Was Raised, From What Mountain, Or What They Ate (As Long As It Wasn’t Another Pig). Just Make Sure That Shit Is Cooked Properly, Cut Decently, & I Have All The Seasonings & Condiments I Need At My Disposal.