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La Quercia: Ham Independence

This little piggy went to market (to get cheese), this little piggy stayed home (to eat cheese), this little piggy had smoked cheese, this little piggy had none, and this little piggy grabbed an American flag and celebrated all the piggies that made beautiful prosciutto before him.

That’s how the nursery rhyme goes, right? Well, it should be! Especially at this time of year, right after Ham Independence week.

Ham? Independence? What?

A few years ago La Quercia—an award-winning Iowan charcutier—declared June 27–July 3rd Ham Independence Week. This is an entire seven days dedicated to celebrating American prosciutto in all its glory, with discount prosciutto, special tastings, educational seminars, “and general mayhem,” not to mention the annual Ham Independent Contest.

The contest looks for creativity and outstanding piggy-pride exhibited through prosciutto-packed in-store displays. The winners are selected through online voting, and the top shop is awarded awesome bragging rights and some free meat! The 2015 honor went to The Cheese Shop of Des Moines, so big ups and much congratulations!

The Cheese Shop Iowa - Ham Independence entry photo

The Cheese Shop Iowa, Ham Independence entry. Photo via La Quercia Contest

Though The Cheese Shop walked away as #1 Ham, there was so much meat-love going around that La Quercia held a Bonus Contest, too.

Displays in the Bonus Contest were evaluated by a panel of judges (that’s where we come in) in the following categories:

  • Most Artistic
  • Savviest Merchandising
  • Go Big or Go Home

Judging is not an easy job but being La Quercia prosciutto lovers, culture co-founders Stephanie and Lassa Skinner were up for the task.

Given display photos and write-ups from each shop, they looked for their top picks in each category. In the “Most Artistic” category they both looked for creativity and humor. In the “Savviest Merchandising,” Lassa says she considered the displays as a customer. For “Go Big or Go Home,” Lassa looked for over-the-top displays with some sort of “shock factor,” while Stephanie looked for presentation of the product, saying it should be “all about the pig, all the time.”

In the end, their input helped name Grand Rapids’ Apertivo (Most Creative), Salt Lake City’s Liberty Heights Fresh (Savviest Merchandising), and Philadelphia’s Di Bruno Brothers (Go Big or Go Home) as the Bonus winners.

Man with whole prosciutto as face

Di Bruno Brothers, Ham Independence entry. Photo via La Quercia Contest

Though we think everyone is a winner when it comes to prosciutto, special congratulations to these shops for taking it to the next level.

If this post made you hungry (like it did for me), you should probably drop everything and go get yourself some La Quercia prosciutto. Immediately.

What should you eat it with? Stephanie suggests a light mozzarella; while Lassa prefers hers “straight up,” she says the delicate, velvety meat also pairs well with dry, sharp, salty aged sheep’s milk cheese.

Happy Ham Independence!


Feature Photo Credit: Steven Lau, ;La Quercia Ham Independence Press Photos

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