ham2While I was in Panama City last week, I stopped to shop at Felipe Motta Wine Store, famous for their deli foods and fine wines. Because it was the holiday season, there were many items available that I haven’t seen in Panama before. There were stacks of wrapped wines, fancy Christmas breads, candies and cakes and huge hams imported from Spain.

The hams were what took my eye, I had not seen hams like that since David and I visited Spain a couple years ago. On that visit, we fell in love with the cana (pronounced con’ya) draft beer and thinly-sliced Jamon Serrano that was commonly served at the hundreds of tapas bars around Madrid. ham3

One day we happened upon the “Museum of Ham”, a big tapas bar, restaurant and ham store located on one of the main streets of Madrid. We later found out there were many such stores all over Spain, a place where locals can sit and enjoy these delicacies any time of the day or night.

This photo shows David enjoying his cana beer under rows and rows of whole Jamon Serrano hams, hanging beautifully from their hoofs. This type of dry-cured ham is unique to Spain and is generally served raw in thin slices similar to Italian prosciutto.ham1

To produce a Serrano ham, it must be trimmed and covered with salt for 2 weeks, then rinsed and hung to cure for 6 months. Finally, it’s hung in a cool place for another 6-18 months to dry. The drying sheds are built in the high mountains of Spain, which is why this ham is called “mountain ham”, or Jamon Serrano.hambest

As soon as I saw these hams available at Felipe Motta, I knew it was exactly what I would get for our holiday season treat this year.

It was a big surprise to David when the ham was delivered to Boquete, he couldn’t believe that I had found such a unique Christmas present to share with our friends throughout the next few months. The white plate of thinly sliced ham is nestled on top a hand-embroidered, antique Spanish mantilla I received as a gift from a dear friend many years ago.

Now, I need to look for some cana beer and our snack time will be complete. If you know where I can get authentic cana beer anywhere in Panama, please let me know.