Like Ham? There's A Festival For That In French Basque Country | culture: the word on cheese
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Like Ham? There’s A Festival For That In French Basque Country

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.

Photo by Gaizka Iroz/AFP/Getty Images

Rebecca Haley-Park

Rebecca Haley-Park is culture's former editor and resident stinky cheese cheerleader. A native New Englander, she holds a BFA in creative writing from University of Maine at Farmington.