Cheese and cured meat go together like peanut butter and jelly (if PB&J was influenced by terroir, that is). If you’re a big fan of cured meats (that happen to pair wonderfully withBasque sheep milk cheeses), the Basque region should be at the top of your must-travel list. Specifically, the town of Bayonne, which has held a ham festival every Easter weekend since the Middle Ages.
Three distinct elements — pigs bred for marbled and meaty back quarters, a rich diet of grains and nuts and a dry constant breeze called the foehn that blows down from the mountains — ensure a complex, fruity, silky Bayonne ham.
The air at the fair is thick with the scent of cured meat. Local farmers present their pride and joy – in this case, enormous hams – to be judged.