Jambon de Bayonne is to France what Parma ham is to Italy. It is an air dried, salted ham that takes its name from the city of the same name situated in south western France. I discovered this wonderful product while staying in the Basque region near to the Pyrenees. And although I am not generally a lover of dried meats and ‘charcuterie’ I found this very palatable.
To side-track from the ham for a moment, I would like to share with you the story of how we acquired our cat, Pussy Willow. We were driving in the Pyrenees when we lost our way and the GPS was sending us around in circles. We stopped at a place where the roadside widened on a bend and got out to stretch our legs and consult the good old fashioned road map. It was then that I heard a faint little cry coming from the forest. We decided to take a walk and investigate, and out from the foliage emerged a very small, very thin and very dehydrated kitten.
There were two eagles circling above us, just waiting for their chance to swoop down and grab this little mite.
I went back to the car and brought a little morsel of the said ham, which she licked, but was not strong enough to eat, so I filled the cap of a water bottle with water, which she lapped up – and another – and anther, and finally she ate a little yogurt and eventually the ham. We telephoned the owner of the ‘Chambres d’hote’ who agreed that we could bring her back and keep her in the bathroom (we had an enormous bathroom and he very kindly provided a climbing/scratching post, litter tray, food and a bed – he had two cats of his own) We bought a little harness and took her out in the car every day with us. Then we drove with her back to Paris and she has ruled the roost ever since (I can hear all those who know her say ‘aye’)
To return to the ham, the slight saltiness goes perfectly with the sweetness of melon, and as melons are now in season and are so cheap and fragrant, this is a perfect summer starter, adding colour, texture and flavour to any meal.
I simply tore up 2-3 slices of jambon de Bayonne per person.
Added about ¼ of a medium melon made into balls.
Drizzled it with olive oil flavoured with basil and added some fresh basil leaves as a garnish.
This can be served as a starter, but on this instance, I ate it for breakfast, which is a delicious, nutritious way to start the day, and keeps you going much longer than toast and jam as you do not get the same sugar rush, although the melon contains a large amount of fructose, the protein and fat in the ham slow down its absorption.