Serrano ham is, surely, the great symbol of Spanish cuisine. And it has a very long history.
Already in the time of the Celts the pig was considered an indispensable animal for food. On the other hand, before the arrival of the Romans, the Iberians already produced hams and sausages. In fact, this was the result of the development of food preservation techniques that, in many cases, consisted of drying the meat in salt.
Thus, in the first century, the Greek historian Strabo already mentioned the ham of Iberia, claiming that the Kerretanois of the Pyrenees made excellent hams, like the Cantabrians. In addition, the term “serrano” refers to the way they had to cure the ham in high places, where the cold and dry climate facilitates the healing and get its characteristic flavor.
In this way, the Romans upon their arrival in Spain discovered the virtue of this exceptional food. Even they created coins in the shape of a ham. And even figures of pigs have been found in military insignia of some legions.
At the beginning of the Roman era, the slaughter of the pig was done by the cook or “coquus” but later the so-called “vicarius supra cenaas” specialized in it. In this way they could take perfectly the most valuable part of the animal, which was the ham. They were normally consumed by the wealthiest citizens.
Later, in medieval times, the preparation of hams also entered in monasteries, where the monks, besides taking care of their gardens, used to have some pig. At the same time, the healing method was perfected, as well as the production systems of the animals. This caused the appearance of a much more perfected product.
Over the centuries varieties have been appearing depending on the type of pig used or the geographical name: Teruel, Gijuelo, Jabugo, Trevélez … But they all have something in common: they are very good. And if not, head over to El Anciano Rey, where we serve an excellent Iberian ham.