In a recent cooking competition note to note, some candidates included in their dish a preparation that they named "Iberian ham".
I will not go back to the question of the reproduction of traditional, classic ingredients or dishes, but I propose that we be astonished to see so named... what was not Iberian ham, but a kind of copy, a reproduction of such a product: the name was usurped, and I do not believe that it is "fair", in the sense of the regulation of the food trade.
And then, why make something new by naming it like something old? The innovation is hidden, instead of being highlighted.
But, in reality, this post is more about sharing an astonishment: the composition of the preparations that were proposed by the candidates who made these "copies of Iberian ham" were actually so different... that it was very difficult to recognize Iberian ham.
For me, and for many people with whom I discussed the question, Iberian ham is served in very thin slices: there is even this Spanish ceremony which consists in putting the ham horizontally, on a support, and using a long knife, to make well-sliced strips.
But, above all, this ham is a beautiful, alternating red and white areas. In the red areas, my friends who have studied this product know that the proteins have been partially hydrolyzed and have released amino acids and peptides, among other things, so that these parts have a lot of flavor. In the white areas, it is fat, and here again, the long evolution of the ham, its maturation have led to the formation of odorant compounds.
Finally, the Iberian ham is characterized by this alternation of areas of different consistencies and different tastes, and in any case powerful.
But we must not forget that there is a lot of fat in total and that this marbling is essential for the quality of Iberian ham.
But in the realisations that were submitted to me, there was no fat!
I must admit that I was a bit shocked and disappointed. Am I old-fashioned? Biased? I know that some members of the jury spontaneously made the same analysis as I did, so it is not idiosyncratic.
And here I am expressing my incomprehension/why did the competitors claim to be making a reproduction of Iberian ham when their preparation did not contain the fat that is almost the hallmark of this ham?