Saturday, October 26, 2013

Really Good Ham

This morning I helped scrub down all of the rooms in the laboratoire, in my black boots and white butcher's coat, then put date stamps and labels on 103 jars of pâté de campagne and 25 of têtu, which is the same thing that goes into the boudin but minus the blood (onions, leeks, carrots, cloves, halved and cleaned pig heads and hearts and bellies). I popped in and out of the shop assisting with clients (I even made change! accurately! in French!), and then went back to the cutting room to help make more packages of sliced ham, because we'd sold all that was in the shop and the storage room. While Frédéric was zipping his way through a massive jambon, I was manning the vacuum-packer, but at one point I turned around to see a really lovely pile of slices on the table, and commented on how nice they looked. "You think so?" he said. "Would you like to take some home for dinner?" I miss making cheese, but I like the perqs that come with this job. "Ham" isn't really the proper word to use; this is not cooked, but raw, salted, and dried. The jambon de Bayonne that gets so much press is actually originally from the Béarn region, not the Basque, at least according to the people who live here in the Ossau and Aspe valleys, and was traditionally preserved with the salt that comes from Salies-de-Béarn, just north of here. It became associated with Bayonne because that's where it shipped out of, being a larger city and a port. The Bergeras don't sell it under the Bayonne IGP designation, though we're in the geographic zone, I believe. I'll have to find out why.

UPDATE: Florence says that they meet all the qualifications for IGP certification and the "Jambon de Bayonne" label, except for the fact that neither she nor Frédéric has gone through the fairly expensive certification course that needs to be renewed frequently, and after weighing the pros and cons decided it wasn't worth it, and wouldn't make them any more money. But the ham is aged in the same place that the "real" version is, and isn't any different. And it is really, really good.


  1. Do these folks sell their products via internet? Do they have a website like you put together for Pat?

  2. They don't sell over the internet, and although I might be helping them with their website project, I don't think they'll get into shipping. Strictly local stuff here.