Skip to comments.What happened in 1492 to change Spanish Catholic Culture.
Posted on 08/18/2009 6:04:20 PM PDT by Cardhu
I was talking to my daughter at lunch today and she asked me if she had told me about what she had discovered about the Spanish fondness for cured ham.
She said she had traveled all over Europe and did not see the cured hams that hang from the ceilings in the delicatessens as is common in Spain. Usually, in the smaller delicatessens they have about fifty to one hundred, "severed legs," as she calls them, hanging from the ceiling, each with a little paper cup hanging below to catch any grease that leeches out of the ham.
Here is a picture I took of some of the completely cured hams in a local supermarket, with prices ranging from about $80 to $150.
She did her research and discovered that it all had its basis in religion, the Catholic religion to be exact.
As you all know, the Moors conquered the southern part of Spain and it remained under their control for over 600 years. But, in January of 1492, a year, known to all Americans, the Moors surrended Granada,their last stronghold, to the Catholic King, and were finally driven out of Spain.
In July of the same year, the persecution of the Jews and those who had embraced Islam, anyone whose allegiance to the King and Catholicism was in doubt.
Many changed their names, but as Marie Antoinette was suppose to have said "Let them eat cake," the King would ferret out the non believers by declaring in effect, "Let them eat pork."
Thus came about the tradition of hanging hams on their doors and under the eves all around their houses to show they were the good guys. Of course they no longer do that but "Jamon Iberico" can be seen hanging in many places like bars, butcher's shops and delis. In like manner, the bars always seem to serve their cooked tapas with chirzo, Spanish sausage and other pork products. A tradition that may have started at the same time.
Below is the one of the types of holders that are found in most Spanish households:
Sounds like an urban legend.
The ham is delicious, but I can never bring myself to look at the attached hooves.
Hey Budd glad you see you still kicking around!:)
I flaged gran
I am only related what I was told but it does seem to be an explanation for being the only country with this fondess for this type of ham which is fairly primitive in its curing method.
Festive meals in every country are usually have their roots in Medieval times, even the American festive meal is from the birth of your nation.
In Spain it is grelos (turnip tops), boiled potatoes and all sorts of pig meat including the fat, really medieval peasants meal .
Hi Resty - I hope you are well and life is good for you.
Little Hooves? They all HAD little hooves.
I raise them, and pigs can be mean, escape artists, and will eat you if they can.
Don’t feel bad for them.
It’s part urban legend. Eating pork was a sign that you weren’t a Muslim, but they didn’t hang it that way to make a statement. It’s hung that way simply because that’s how you keep it. This is air-dried ham, like country ham in the US South.
It keeps for a really long time, btw, and people keep the leg on their kitchen counters, covered with a dish towel, and slice the ham off in thin slices as they need it.
Sorry, but this sounds like pure nonsense. The Spanish liked pork. They brought their pigs to the Americas, for instance very early on. Pigs will eat anything, are relatively inexpensive therefor and can be prepared in all sorts of ways.
An urban legend with legs.
“Spain’s love affair with ham dates to the Inquisition, when people ate it to prove they weren’t Jewish or Muslim. Centuries later, ham remains a staple in Spanish cuisine and is an essential part of the tapas experience.”
(June 12, 2009 article: http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/fea/travel/other/stories/DN-madridtapas_0614tra.ART.State.Edition1.197afab.html )
Okay, so pork was NOT a staple before 1478 or so? That’s what I’m supposed to believe? Yeah, sure.
Besides, by long standing tradition, converted Jews were not expected to eat pork if they claimed they could not “physically tolerate it”. So said the law code of Erwig, promulgated in 680. (Norman Roth Jews, Visigoths, and Muslims in medieval Spain: cooperation and conflict, 29).
Even though I’m Catholic, I never liked ham for some reason. I guess I would be considered Muslim.
I had a friend who grew up in Pittsburgh, where apparently their only food tradition back in the 1950s was eating bacon on Fridays. I asked her why, and she said, “to prove you were neither Jewish nor Catholic.”
Looks like an inverted banana rack.