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Safety-conscious Chinese embrace Spanish pork and Ibérico hams

Spain Ibérico hams in China, Chinese market

Today, Spain's Ibérico hams are increasingly sought after worldwide, particularly among Chinese consumers concerned about the safety of their own homegrown food.

世人对西班牙伊比利亚火腿的追求在今日益发热烈,特别是那些对自家出产的食物有安全顾虑的中国顾客。

"Spanish ham is a very unique product, but it's also seen as healthy, which is a real asset when you're selling to the Chinese," said Oliver Win of Olivier Pacific Limited, a fine foods distribution company based in Hong Kong that imports the Cinco Jotas brand of Spanish ham.

"西班牙火腿是非常特别的产品,人们也认为它有益健康,而和中国人做买卖的时候这是很有利的筹码,"永兴太平洋贸易公司的奥立弗·荣表示。这是一家位于香港的高级食材分销商,进口5J牌的西班牙火腿。

Spain's producers, in fact, took no small measure of umbrage at the World Health Organization's attempt to lump their luxury ham together with cheaper products like processed sausages and hamburger meat.

事实上,对于世界卫生组织竟然将他们的极品火腿与加工香肠、汉堡肉这类廉价商品混为一谈,西班牙火腿生产商的火气可不小。

A single leg of the finest ham from Cinco Jotas — weighing almost 18 pounds — costs about $670 in Spain. (In the United States, the price is about double.) Even the way the ham is sliced is considered something of an art form.

单单一条5J牌最高档的腌火腿——重达18磅——在西班牙的售价大约为670美元。(这个价格在美国还要翻上一番)。就连该怎么给这种火腿切片都被认为是一门艺术。

"This ham is as natural as food can get — no added heavy metals, preservatives or colorings — and it comes from an animal that has built up muscle by eating the best food and exercising a lot in beautiful surroundings," said José Gómez, the owner of Joselito, another top brand of ham. "There are thousands of products that present a higher cancer risk."

"这种火腿是再天然不过的食物了——没有添加重金属、防腐剂或染色剂——而且它来自一种摄取顶级养分、在优美的环境中大量运动而锻炼出肌肉的动物,"另一个高级火腿品牌小何塞的老板何塞·戈麦斯说。"还有数不清的食品的致癌风险更高呢。"

With a passion for pork products, and rising incomes, the Chinese have entered the market for Ibérico hams with gusto, even while paying slightly more for Spanish ham than prices set for the American market. The next step, according to Spanish producers, is to get China to lift a cumbersome restriction that forces them to remove the bone from the leg.

因着对猪肉类产品的热爱与收入的增加,中国人津津有味地进入了伊比利亚火腿的市场,即使他们得为了这些西班牙火腿付出比美国市场还要再稍高的价钱。根据西班牙生产商所言,他们的下一步是让中国取消强制他们给火腿剔除骨头的麻烦规定。

In fact, the Chinese appetite for Spanish pork stretches all the way down its production chain, including innards that Spanish companies struggle to export to many Western countries.

事实上,中国人对西班牙猪肉的胃口一路扩大到了生产链的所有环节,包括西班牙公司难以推销给众多西方国家的内脏类产品。

Fresh pork exports to China from Spain — including heads, ears and other parts — rose 35 percent last year, making it the second-largest market in volume after neighboring France, according to figures from the Spanish Meat Export Office.

西班牙肉类出口办公室的数据显示,去年西班牙向中国出口的新鲜猪肉产品——包括猪头、猪耳朵和猪的其他部位——增长了35%,就出口量而言,中国已成为西班牙猪肉产品的第二大市场,仅次于临近的法国。

Last year, Fosun, one of China's largest financial and industrial conglomerates, bought a stake in the parent company of Cinco Jotas, one of Spain's top brands of Ibérico ham, which is based in Jabugo.

去年,中国最大的金融和工业集团公司之一复兴国际入股了5J的母公司,5J是西班牙顶级伊比利亚火腿品牌之一,其总部位于哈武戈。

"We generally think that our culture is closer to that of America, but when it comes to ham, Chinese gastronomy is really in tune with ours," Bernardino Rodríguez, the general director of Cinco Jotas, said during a tour of cellars where legs of ham are hooked from the ceiling and left to age.

"我们通常认为,自己的文化和美国更接近,但说到火腿,中国美食文化的确和我们的更一致。"5J总裁贝尔纳迪诺·罗德里格斯一边带领大家参观火腿储藏窖一边说,火腿被挂在地窖顶部,一直腌制到足够的年份。

"I can't think of anybody more capable of distinguishing between different qualities of ham than the Chinese," he said.

"我觉得,在分辨不同品质的火腿的差别方面,谁也比不过中国人,"他说。

Today, Francisco Espárrago, the chairman of Señorío de Montanera, a midsize producer of ham, said he found it much easier to get Chinese importers, as opposed to those in the United States, to view Spain's best ham as a luxury product.

中型火腿制造商橡果领地的董事长弗朗西斯科·埃斯帕拉戈表示,如今他发现相比于美国进口商,让中国进口商把西班牙的顶级火腿看作一种奢侈品,要容易得多。

"The Americans believe that everything should follow their own processes, so they don't seem to understand that allowing the ham to sweat in the heat spreads the flavor but doesn't destroy the meat," he said. "For the Chinese, that concept isn't a problem."

"美国人认为所有的一切都该按照他们自己的方式来,所以他们似乎不会理解,让火腿在高温环境下脱水,不会破坏肉质,反而更容易让味道渗进去,"他说。"对中国人来说,理解这种概念不成问题。"

The finest Ibérico ham is produced in southwestern Spain, a region that also has strong weather changes.

品质最佳的伊比利亚火腿出产于西班牙西南部一个地区,那里天气变化也比较大。

For instance, Jabugo has some of Spain's heaviest rainfalls, resulting in a damp winter climate that helps spread the salt into the meat as it is cured, using a method dating to Roman times. The hot summer months, in contrast, favor the so-called sweating and drying of the ham.

比如,哈武戈有西班牙最强的雨季,它会带来潮湿的冬季气候,有助于盐在腌制过程中融入猪肉,而其腌制方法可以追溯到罗马时代。相比之下,炎热的夏季就更有利于火腿脱水、风干。

"If you don't have the right climate, you simply can't produce," Mr. Gómez of Joselito said. "Ham is a bit like wine, because several small steps and adjustments make all the difference between an average product and premium quality."

"如果气候条件不合适,根本做不出来好火腿,"小何塞的的老板戈麦斯说。"火腿有点像红酒,因为几个小步骤不一样,稍微有些调整,就足以造成普通产品和一流品质的天壤之别。"

The growing Chinese fascination with the hams has also been helped by an increase in Chinese visitors to Spain, where they have the opportunity to taste firsthand the country's wide array of pork-related gastronomy.

西班牙的中国游客增多,也是促使越来越多的中国人喜爱西班牙火腿的一个原因。他们有机会直接品尝这个国家品种多样的猪肉类美食。

"We open at 1 p.m., and the first clients who then cross the door are now almost certainly Chinese," said José María Ruiz Benito, the owner of the eponymous José María restaurant in Segovia, famous for its roasted suckling pig.

"我们下午一点开门,如今在那个点走进门的第一批顾客基本上都是中国人,"位于塞戈维亚市、以烤乳猪知名的何塞-玛丽亚餐厅老板何塞·玛丽亚·鲁伊斯·贝尼托说。

2016-06-23

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