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Posted August 13, 2008

Here is a fabulous blog recounting the arrival of a precious Bellota ham. DBH


I now know what it is like to wait for a mail order bride. You order her, fill out the paperwork and wait. And wait. And wait. I have been doing that.

By the time she is nearly ready to arrive your expectations are at the max. Once a week you call or email the agency to inquire about the arrival.

And then, one day, when every bone in your body tells you that you cannot wait any longer, you get THE CALL. You are told the arrival date is approaching -you only have to settle up the “charges”. Of course you ordered her from a European agency in 2003, five long years have past, and the dollar has lost much of its value against the Euro. You now have to pay 60% more than you had originally thought.

But you have waited all of your life to have one of your own so you wave caution to the wind and give them the credit card. They tell you the arrival is scheduled for Friday, August 8, 2008. This is a date that has been chiseled in my memory for perpetuity.

I woke up early last Friday so excited I was almost breaking out in hives. My heart was quivering with sensations of joy and my soul was, simply stated, all a twitter. I went out at 6am to exercise so I would be ready to embrace her, took a shower, put on a nice Tommy Bahama shirt instead of my normal tee-shirt and waited. And waited. And worried.

What if she didn’t arrive? What if she was kidnapped? What if the plane from Spain crashed? What if, What if, What if!

At 10am the doorbell rang and heart in my throat, I bolted toward the front door. There she was. After five years of waiting, she had arrived. My version of a mail order bride. I grabbed her, skipped with a bounce in my step into the family room, cuddling her in my arms and asked my other bride to take some photos.

I carried her into the kitchen and helped release her from her traveling carriage. There she was, still dressed, but as I held her I could see her size, her curves, and I could feel her foot.

I began to disrobe her, lovingly removing her outer garments. Imagine my shock and awe when I saw her underclothing was made of clear plastic.

I was leaping up and down screaming “My Pata Negra has arrived! My Pata Negra has arrived!”

And with that, I stripped her down to her skin and lovingly placed her in her cradle, her own Jamonera that accompanied her from Spain. I tenderly set her next to my home made vinegar jar so she would be comfortable she was among good cuisine pals.

Like a deranged animal, I frantically opened the packet of her official papers that arrived with her and read:

In the Dehesa’s, an indigenous forest of Southwestern Spain, the Ibérico pig, a descendant of the wild boar, still wanders free. Popularly known as the Pata Negra, or Black Hoof, the Ibérico de Bellota feed exclusively on fallen acorns, known as bellota, for three months prior to slaughter.

The resulting meat is swirled with high levels of flavorful natural fats, for which this pig has gained international notoriety.

The Ibérico de Bellota is responsible for the unsurpassed taste and quality of this traditional dry pork ham.

That’s right. Five years after being placed on the mailing list and just a couple of months after the USDA finally agreed to allow this heavenly hunk of ham into the USA, I was able to get one of the small number that were produced for US consumption.

For those of you that have been reading my Blog for a while you will remember reading in my Post “The Green Fairy” , the lengths I will go to for this delicacy. Go to the photo of the ham attack in that posting and you will understand how much I LOVE Jamón Ibérico.

And so, taking the special Jamón knife that they also sent me, I sliced her up and had my first bite.

I am not sure to describe how it tasted after waiting five year. I savored what truly is perfection-a ham like the best of Italian Prosciutto (San Danielle) but 100 times better. A spectacular piece of pig with moist marbled snow white fat interspersed with a burgundy colored ham, sliced so thin with the special knife that you can see the knife sliding gracefully under the ham as you gently separate it from the main portion.

Words fail me when I try to describe it, but it was capricious, whimsical, miraculous, addictive, sensational, fantastical, prodigious, stupendous, nirvana, the big O, wondrous, huge, terrific, ecstasy, platonic, enormous, unbelievable, and so damn good.

So, I have spent the last two days with my Mail Order Bride. The kitchen is permeated with the sweet scent of acorn fed, slowly air cured, black hoofed pig. And I am in heaven.

In the photo above, the large depression in the ham (filled with fat to keep it moist) is the amount of ham that has been transferred from my Pata Negra to my stomach over the last 48 hours.

Some people say that Mail Order Brides are a moronic idea. But I can testify that I love mine more than Cheez-Its. I am so chipper tonight that Pata Negra has arrived in my life.

I now need to finish this Post and go carve a few slices for a little nightime snack. Tonight if I have trouble sleeping, I will count Black Hoofed Pigs rather than Sheep.

posted by Grover Thomas Jr. @ 9:42 PM