美酒佳餚Food & wine

Jamón(火腿),西班牙頂級美食,一種風乾、發酵的生火腿。西班牙生火腿分為塞拉諾火腿(Jamón serrano)和伊比利亞火腿(Jamón ibérico)兩種級別。Jamón serrano是由白豬的肉製成,在市場上和餐廳中比較常見;Jamón ibérico是香氣濃郁、口感複雜的高級火腿。 因為伊比利亞火腿來自西班牙較稀有伊比利亞黑豬,它們被放養在附近的原始樹林中,每年秋季,漫山遍野的果實成熟後掉落在地上,這些黑毛豬便以橡果、香草、橄欖和樹根為食,在自然中快樂長大,產量稀少,而且政府對品質控制非常嚴格,所以就算在西班牙當地,伊比利亞火腿的價格也非常昂貴。從豬的精心餵養到醃制風乾,最終製成火腿,耗時約五年。一支上好的伊比利亞火腿重量約在6至8公斤。盒裝的包裝非常講究,真空包裝再以黑絨布包裹, 還配置木架與長刀。一隻最好的伊比利亞火腿可以賣到接近500歐元一公斤。

伊比利亞黑蹄豬成熟後,後腿被在5攝氏度以下的低溫中用海鹽醃制,然後在室內分別經過脫水、風乾,最後在地窖中至少花16個月低溫成熟。整個過程都不受外界污染,所以可以完全放心地生吃。

火腿切出來後就可以直接進食了,最好使用溫熱的盤子來乘載,因為火腿複雜的香氣會隨著溫熱的碟子散髮出來,這個時候再吃的火腿會比不加熱的更香。如果火腿切出來擺放的時間過長就會失去水分,這個時候可以加一些橄欖油潤滑一下。也可以用火腿包上蜜瓜一起吃,用蜜瓜的香甜清新搭配火腿的咸香豐腴,別有一番風味。或是火腿薄片配上一口啤酒或者雪利酒,就是西班牙典型的戶外生活的味道。也可以用一片火腿包住一塊麵包、餅乾,就一口啤酒,這是安達盧西亞地區小酒館最流行的吃法。

Jamón Ibérico ham
There are two types of ham in Spain: jamón serrano (made from white pig) and jamón ibérico (made from dark pig). Acorn-fed Ibérico ham is considered a gourmet food, one that conquers the taste buds of anyone trying it for first time. It should be eaten in wafer-thin slices to appreciate the fragrant, delicate flesh, flecked with fat from the pigs’ acorn diet. Rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, the fat melts in the mouth, flooding the palate with its intense, long flavor.

The Ibérico pig descends from a breed of wild boar that once roamed the Mediterranean basin. Its characteristics stem from its adaptation to the natural dehesa environment, from which it obtains its food. The word dehesa refers to the sparsely wooded pasturelands of holm and cork oaks that span large areas of central and south-western Spain in the provinces of Salamanca (Castile-León), Cáceres and Badajoz (Extremadura), Huelva and Córdoba (Andalusia), and Toledo and Ciudad Real (Castile-La Mancha).

The best cuts of the Ibérico pig – the rear limbs (for hams) and the front limbs (for shoulders) – are used to make what are unanimously considered the world’s best hams. Many hams and shoulders are still made using traditional techniques in natural drying chambers at altitudes of over 600 meters (1,969 feet) above sea level. The names of towns like Guijuelo (Salamanca, Castile-León), Montánchez (Cáceres, Extremadura), Jabugo and Aracena (Huelva, Andalusia) will always be associated with ham and other Ibérico products.

The production process lasts almost two years, involving salting, settling, drying and curing. Although modern innovations have made it possible to reproduce optimum production conditions, the skill, experience and care of the artisan producers are still essential. The minimum curing period for an Ibérico ham is about 18 months, but it may exceed 24 months for larger hams.

橄欖油
西班牙出產的橄欖油世界聞名, 每年的產量和出口量均居世界之首,年產油量約160萬噸,約佔世界總量的50%。 橄欖油對人體的健康效益極大,油中含有比任何植物油都高的不飽和脂肪酸、豐富的維生素A、D、E、F和胡蘿蔔素等脂溶性維生素及抗氧化物等多種成分,並且不含膽固醇,人體消化吸收率極高。有減少胃酸、阻止發生胃炎及十二指腸潰瘍等病的功能;並可刺激膽汁分泌,激化胰酶的活力,使油脂降解,減少膽囊炎和膽結石的發生。初榨橄欖油是指酸度值不超過3.3的初榨橄欖油。質量上乘,是用橄欖鮮果在二十四小時內壓榨出來的純天然果汁經油水分離製成。其採用機械或其他物理方法在低溫進行壓榨,不添加任何防腐劑及其他化學試劑。「extra virgen」級是最上等的橄欖油。它是從上等橄欖榨取而成的,無需用溶媒提取。一般稱為「冷壓初榨橄欖油」,因為它是在室溫下榨取出來的。它所含的游離脂肪酸極低,這種脂肪酸能破壞橄欖油的味道。在歐盟的標準中,酸度低於0.8才可稱為冷壓初榨橄欖油。 最出名的是科尼卡布蘭(Cornicabra)和皮誇爾(Picual)品種,而前者,則是在西班牙種植範圍最大的品種,因為其狹長而細尖的底部,和渾圓的「羊角」狀的身體的而得此名。

Olive Oil
The natural juice obtained from the fresh, healthy fruits of the olive, extra virgin olive oil, is widely revered as one of the great ingredients in Spanish gastronomy. Its varied aromas and flavors, culinary versatility and health-giving attributes have been acknowledged and extolled by chefs, gourmets and nutritionists the world over. Spain’s geography and climate – with extensive mountain slopes, mild or cold winters, and long, hot summers – are ideal for olive cultivation. The olive tradition existed prior to the Roman domination of Spain, although it was the Romans who extended cultivation and developed oil production. Over the centuries, olive-growing has had an uneven history in line with political, economic and even religious affairs, but its overwhelming, constant presence has molded the landscape in many parts of Spain and, to some extent, determined the lifestyle and eating habits of its inhabitants. And the tradition has now been revitalized. More than 350 million olives are grown all over Spain, and in some regions the olive landscape is staggering. This is the case in some parts of Andalusia where extensive olive orchards grow alongside holm and cork oaks on broad plains or alongside green pine forests on mountain slopes, creating a landscape of outstanding beauty and personality. Spain is also the world’s leading source of the golden juice of the olive fruit, the essence of Mediterranean cuisine. It produces about half the world’s total olive oil, of which about 46% is exported, making Spain the world’s leading olive oil producer and exporter. Average annual production of olive oil in Spain over recent years has been around 1.75 million tons. The great range of native olives expresses the geographical diversity of Spain. In Andalusia, the star is the Picual variety. Mainly grown in the province of Jaén, its growing area also extends into the neighboring provinces of Córdoba and Granada, as well as northwards into Castile-La Mancha and other regions. The second most widely-produced variety is Cornicabra, which is mostly grown in Castile-La Mancha and other parts of central Spain. The resulting oils are very fruity and thick, and are very useful for creating highly-esteemed blends with other olive varieties. All together, the Spanish map of native olives includes about 260 varieties.

西班牙海鮮飯
作為西班牙的國寶級美食,海鮮飯融合了豐富的食材和精湛的烹飪技術。古羅馬人、摩爾人以及新航路的開闢者不斷對這道菜進行改良和創新,才有了現在我們吃到的各種海鮮飯。Paella一詞來自拉丁語Patella,指雙耳平底鐵鍋,後亦指這道菜,起源於瓦倫西亞自治大區瓦倫西亞市郊的阿爾布菲拉湖區(Albufera)。這裡是西班牙乃至地中海地區最重要的稻米產區之一,當地人就地取材,將大米、雞肉或兔肉、蔬菜等混在一起烹飪,就誕生了Paella 。之後慢慢地出現了各種版本,而在西班牙各大旅遊勝地最受歡迎的是加了海鮮的paella。 現在好多中國朋友將Paella通稱為海鮮飯,最早的「海鮮飯」並沒有海鮮。瓦倫西亞飯(Paella Valenciana)是海鮮飯的鼻祖,沒有海鮮的「海鮮飯」,用到兔肉或雞肉、西紅柿、扁豆、甜椒、番紅花、洋蔥、大蒜等配料。要做這種飯,首先要選擇西班牙當地產的大米(arroz bomba, arroz sènia 或arroz Albufera),稻米是阿拉伯人從亞洲帶到西班牙的,但由於氣候水土的差異,西班牙米和中國大米口感質地均不同。 要做出正宗的瓦倫西亞海鮮飯,水和米的比例也很關鍵,每粒米都很有嚼勁,吸收了各種食材和調料的精華和味道。

Paella is currently an internationally-known rice dish from Spain. It originated in the fields of a region called Valencia on the eastern coast of Spain. Today paella is made in every region of Spain, using just about any ingredient that goes well with rice. There are as many versions of paella as there are cooks. It may contain chicken, pork, shellfish, fish, eel, squid, beans, peas, artichokes or peppers. Saffron, the spice that also turns the rice a wonderful golden color is an essential part of the dish. There is an old story of how the Moorish kings’ servants created rice dishes by mixing the left-overs from royal banquets in large pots to take home. Some say that that word paella originates from the Arab word “baqiyah” meaning left-overs. However, linguists believe that the word paella comes from the name of the pan it is made in - the Latin term patella, a flat plate on which offerings were made to the Gods. The stories of servants creating dishes from the King’s left-overs are romantic, but we know for certain that it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that modern paella was created in an area around Albufera (a freshwater lagoon near the city of Valencia). During lunch, workers in the fields would make the rice dish in a flat pan over a fire. They mixed in whatever they could find - such as snails and vegetables. For special occasions, rabbit and later chicken was added.

西班牙是全球葡萄園面積最大的國家,產量居世界第三。這個舊世界產酒區的歷史可追溯到3000多年前。西班牙以「國酒」雪莉酒(Sherry,一種強化酒)聞名,也盛產上好的卡瓦酒(CAVA,也稱氣泡酒),這些在地中海氣候下釀成的酒,大多可在國內享用,鮮少外銷他國。西班牙人時至今日仍保留傳統的古法釀酒,遊客可在酒莊品嘗到古樸而郁香的醇酒。葡萄酒產區遍布全國,其中最出名的是La Rioja。

Nearly 3 million acres in Spain are used to plant grapes for the production of Spanish wine. This makes it the country with the largest surface percentage dedicated to wine cultivation, even though it's only the third world producer (after France and Italy). Spanish wines are a big part of the total production in Spain, generating around 5000 million euros per year. It is famous for its Sherry wine and Cava. The most well-known area for wine production is La Rioja.