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Spanish Ham

If there’s such a thing as a "rock-star of Spanish ham," Florencio Sanchidrian is it, reports Raphael Minder in The New York Times (12/19/13). It’s not just because he looks way cool with long hair, a bandana and hipster whiskers. It’s because of the way he slices a leg of Iberico ham, as thinly as possible, and then slowly slides "the slice up and down the blade," infusing it with the ambient flavors on his knife. "I’ve now got a slice that will taste nothing like a normal cut and will in fact remind me that God exists," says Florencio.

Florencio has sliced Spanish ham "at the Oscars, at private Hollywood parties and in the casinos of Las Vegas and Macau." He’s sliced for popes and presidents, including George W. Bush. He charges "around $4,000 to cut a leg of ham, which takes him an hour and half." Most other ham slicers earn more like $250. However, Florencio contends that "50 percent of the value of a leg of Spanish cured ham depends on how well it gets sliced." Part of the value is also in his performance, which he describes as "a creative art" he calls "narrate and cut." As he cuts, he pretty much eulogizes the pig.

"Remember that this animal tastes so good because it walked hundreds of kilometers, took long siestas in the fresh air and got to watch some of Spain’s best sunsets," he might say. He also faces "his leg of ham almost like a bullfighter about to deliver a final blow." Florencio’s ultimate goal is to increase global consumption of Spanish ham, a single leg of which "can cost as much as $500 in Spain." His efforts are hampered by health codes in the United States and elsewhere.