Jamón Ibérico de … Iowa? ¿Que?

In the late 15th and early 16th centuries, as the culinary aspect of a concerted effort to drive Jews and Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula, Spaniards began “hamming it up” and putting pork on just about everything. Fast-forward to the modern day, and Spanish ham, particularly that made from pasture-raised hogs fed almost exclusively on acorns, is the Rolls-Royce of swine.

Just as the much-celebrated jamón ibérico has started to become available stateside, an Iowa pork producer has decided to compete with the masters. The Des Moines Register reports on the efforts of La Quercia LLC to bring Spanish-style eats to Middle America. “As the legendary Spanish ham was making its U.S. debut, La Quercia LLC, a Norwalk-based artisan pork processor, began curing meat from 49 of what are believed to be the first acorn-fed, pasture-raised hogs in Iowa—if not the United States—that were part of an extensive commercial venture,” the story notes.

The “Acorn Edition” pork has caught the eyes of chefs and producers around the country (including Mario Batali, no slouch in the meat department). And food writers seem to dig it—it looks as though American ham fans have hit the jackpot.