Prosciutto de Parma, Jamon Serrano, Jamon IbÃ¨rico
This is a test for all prosciutto aficionados. Each one was examined, sniffed, tasted, savoured and described. Participate in the Tasting by including your opinion on which you think is which, and why.
Why? Just for fun, to test your tasting memory, and possibly win a copy of Michael Pollan’s In Defence of Food: a book every eater should definitely read.
I love shopping at The Italian Centre Shop, and found that they had Jamon IbÃ¨rico there last week, so had to buy some, and had to buy the Serrano to compare it to, and then had to buy the Prosciutto di Parma to compare them to. How else would I know what I really liked. And, how else would I know if the Jamon IbÃ¨rico was worth the $150 dollar a kilo price tag (cured for 2 years), according to my palate? I bought 200g of each and decided this would be the perfect choice for my January Tasting.
Heretofore, each of the above samples will be described as positioned above from left to right: Sample A, Sample B, and Sample C. Close up views of each sample in the same order, follow.
This month, the fortunate invitees to the Tasting, and “Official Tasters” were myself, my husband, Vanja, and our dear friend V, who has been known to have a very discerning palate in many circles. Well, all of us do!
So, back to the first photo. Sample A (far left) has an orange colour compared to the other two; it was shinier, and appeared to “stand” on the plate with more resistance. Sample B (middle) was the darkest flesh, and all three testers agreed it was the most appealing to the eye. Sample C was the pinkest and most delicate in colour; it was also least resistant to the gravity on the plate, at puddled into it.
And, back to the three close up photos. Sample A had a very unappealing smell to V. I didn’t care for the smell of any of them, but Sample B was most “meaty” in scent. Sample A was a bit off-putting, and Sample C was almost too mild to capture without burying my nose into it. Vanja, my husband, chose not to do any close up whiffing. Sample A was definitely the driest and a bit waxy. All three of us agreed to that. It’s texture had the most resistance and body. Sample B was was more varied. The mid section of each slice had more substance and give, but the ends of each slice were buttery tender. Sample C was butter tender throughout. Sample B was drier than Sample C, but not as dry as Sample A. Sample C, though we know it was cured, did not have any “dried” quality whatsoever.
Our friend, V:Â Â Â Â He didn’t like Sample A at all. He said the taste was tainted to him. The mouth feel of Sample A, to me, was “greasier” than the other two, but not in an off putting way. It was also shinier. He went back and forth from Sample B to C several times before he could really find his way through the tasting. He found that Sample B had more appealing flavour, but in such a subtle way, that it was almost difficult to discern. He felt the fat brought the sample to the highest standard, but preferred the texture of Sample A. I was so surprised that he found B and C to be similar in flavour. To both Vanja and I, Samples A and B were more similar. He was correct in identifying one of these samples.
My husband, Vanja: Â Â He was definite in his opinions, and quick with his findings: Sample A was robust, most flavourful, and had the best balance of fat and meat for his palate. He has always preferred this sample. I did this taste test with him before, and he chose the same one, unknown to him. He felt sample C was not flavourful, and that the texture was buttery, but the subtle flavour did not excite him. He was correct in identifying all three of these samples.
Valerie:Â Â Â I had selected Sample A as my favourite on the previous tasting with my husband. This time, I could not select a favourite. I could not discern anymore than the subtlest difference between Sample A and Sample B in flavour. Sample B was a less dry, more varied in texture, and had me salivating a little more than Sample A. That umami taste seemed to come from the mellow fat in Sample B. Sample C had by far the most delicate pink colour, was by far the most buttery tender, and also the subtlest of flavours. Each offering something really special, but Sample A and B were my taste favourites, and Sample C, my texture favourite. Sample B was the most appealing sample with the rich depth of colour that found each tester reaching for it, first.
The short version:
Sample A is saltiest, driest, most dense with a waxy feel (thanks Andy, for that word!).
Sample B is most flavourful, most appealing to the eye, and has the tastiest fat (but only subtley so)
Sample C is the least salty, most tender (butter tender), and most subtle in flavour
Now it is your turn.
Sample A is the closest, and C is the furthest. Now, use your taste memory, and your research skills to participate in the process. Which do you think is which?
I will follow up with naming the winner, and with labeling each of the samples in the comment section of this article next Sunday, exactly one week from today! I am really looking forward to some participation from my readers, and I hope that tastings like this will initiate some heartfelt responses, memories, and personal stories.
We shall see!