News May, 26th 2016 by


Guijelo2 (1)


AJ Linn

All that glitters is not gold in the world of food writing. The work can be thankless and boring. One of Spain’s top producers has invited some international journalists to visit Guijelo, home of allegedly the best Iberian ham made from acorn-fed pigs

The two-day trip involves train to Madrid, then road to Guijelo, Salamanca, a 6-hour journey not only boring but wifi-less, with no gastronomic opportunities. Midday sees us trying to cram into a vehicle that has one seat less than was requested from Europcar, and the delay involves exactly the time that would have been needed to enjoy a good lunch.

Virtually unfed and definitely thirsty after a refuelling stop at a ‘dry’ petrol station, we wearily arrive at Spain’s ugliest town, optimistically assuming that our hosts will be waiting at the hotel with bounteous samples of their star products and a few glasses of wine. No such luck. It is straight off to the first of countless ham curing chambers to be inspected over the following 24 hours. When you visit wineries they show you stacks of barrels, but at least have the sense to assume you are aware one looks very much like another, so some bottles are uncorked after a half-hour or so. Not so in ham-land. After seeing thousands of identical pig parts buried in salt and hanging from hooks, not one sample has appeared, the sheer monotony of it all only broken by a half-decent dinner at a local restaurant.

After a farm visit the concluding act is to be a lunch, so finally, just as we are leaving, we may get to taste some ham, which is what we really came for. And indeed, we are eventually served three miniscule plates the ‘best ham is Spain’ together with a few slices of chorizo, salami etc, then it’s another dash down the motorway to catch the last train to Málaga. The going-away present is two vacuum-packs of ham, retail value seven euros. 

AJ Linn

Andrew Linn left England 40 years ago to relocate to Spain, having been involved in businesses such as wine shipping and publishing. He currently writes regularly and professionally on wine, food, flamenco, and the Spanish way of life for various publications, and has a regular column in a Spanish newspaper. Andrew is involved in charity work relating to abandoned and mistreated animals.

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