It turns out that slicing ham isn’t just a skill, it’s a profession. What, you’ve never heard of the famous jamon slicers of Spain?
Either way, for anyone interested in correctly slicing a full leg of jamon (and taking it from a skill to an art form), there’s now a book that shows you how: “Mastering the Fine Art of Slicing Spanish Ham,” now available in English.
The way you cut your ham apparently can determine aroma, texture and flavor, and you don’t want to mess these characteristics up.
After all, it takes 18 months of curing to produce jamon serrano and 12 to 48 months for jamon iberico (made from black-footed Iberian pigs), and a whole bone-in leg of the latter costs about $700. Slicing ham, we learn, “requires talent, extensive knowledge, practice and steady hands.”
The book covers types of hams and topics such as safety, aesthetics, preparation, utensils and important vocabulary. It’s a user’s manual that provides step-by-step photography, intended to give the reader the same instruction as a hands-on course a with a master jamon slicer.
But if you don’t happen to have a whole leg of ham to slice yourself, another option might be the jamon menu from the Bazaar on La Cienega: jamon serrano, dry-cured jamon iberico, dry-cured free-range jamon iberico, and dry-cured free-range acorn-fed jamon iberico.
“Slicing Spanish Ham,” $60. Available at www.le-sanctuaire.com.