As we just learned from Fermin, our Iberico ham producer in Spain:
New USDA regulations for 2009 require to remove the famous black hoof, or PATA NEGRA, on future imports of Iberico hams. This only applies to the USA. Japan, EU and the rest of the world has no problem with this. We are currently working to secure as many of the last bone-in Iberico hams with hoof.
Well… I can’t avoid to react a bit cynical about this issue. The USDA administration shows that it has zero understanding of the connection between a product, its culture and history. It’s simply a barbaric act to remove the hoof of an Iberico ham! The hoof on a bone-in Iberico ham is like the frame of a painting. What the USDA did here is like going into a museum and taking off all frames from the paintings. Anybody that has traveled through Spain and saw all the hams hanging in stores, bars and private homes, will agree.
And understandingly for the price of a thousand dollar ham, you would like to see the real black hoof on it, just to assure that you get what it is. Fermin, as the only producer allowed to import Iberico ham into the US, is of course a reliable company.
However, after 10 years of USDA approval process for the ham to arrive into the US, you could enjoy it in its true form for 1 year Now the USDA proofed for a millionth of time that they are not really an organization that understands artisan foods! I support the voices that are demanding a separate entity in the USDA and FDA that is able to properly deal with artisan food products. (Read Michael Pollan “Omnivore’s Dilemma” or “In defense of food” to learn about how the USDA caused this country to end up in the most surreal food culture and what effect it has on people’s health)
Maybe the USDA wants something like that?
The creative photographer is hiding on Flickr. Forgot to get his name to give credit when I found the pic a while ago.