La Jamoteca Blog

"PATA NEGRA" and other (frequently misused) nicknames

There are very few products with as many nicknames as the Acorn Fed 100% Iberico ham, something that, often, leads to confusion and misunderstanding. 

 

It all started in Spain, where the market became so chaotic and misinformed that the Government was forced to pass a bill (back in 2014) to control production and labeling of the Bellota (acorn fed) 100% Iberico ham. 
According to that bill (known as "Norma de Calidad del Iberico", in Spanish), for a producer or retailer to label a ham as "Pata Negra", the ham must come from a 100% Iberico breed of pig fed on acorns (now, please, check how many hams are offered online as "pata negra" that are neither acorn fed nor 100% Iberico). 
In fact, Pata Negra means "back hoof" or "black foot", that refers to the color of the animal (Iberico pig is usually black) but, as you probably know, not all Iberico pigs are 100% Iberico breed (from moms and dads 100% Iberico) nor fed on acorns (only around 5% of Iberico ham production is "acorn fed" or "de Bellota", in Spanish). 
So, what is the proper name of the best ham in the world? De Bellota (meaning: Acorn Fed) 100% Iberico (meaning, no crossed bred, but 100% Iberico breed). De Bellota 100% Iberico. 

Other nicknames frequently used (and against my will) to refer to this ham: 
-Jabugo: Jabugo is just a place in Southern Spain recognized as a good source of Iberico ham (DOP Jabugo). Does it mean that is the best? It depends! They produce grain fed 100% Iberico, acorn fed 100% Iberico, grain fed 50% Iberico, acorn fed 50% Iberico... Do you see what I mean? Jabugo is just a DOP, not a grade. So, please, do not associate Jabugo to Acorn Fed. 
-Guijuelo: same as above, Guijuelo is a DOP, not a way to grade ham's quality.  
-Cinco Jotas: this is a popular brand, not a grade. The same happens with other brands too. 
If you are going to use a nickname, why don't you call it "Rolls Royce of ham" (to refer to its quality) or "Olive tree with legs" (to point out its healthy properties)? Or, even better, use the proper and legal reference: Jamon de Bellota 100% Iberico