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World's costliest ham triggers pork envy

Manuel Maldonado's Iberian ham being cutHard-core food fanatics are drooling over the prospect of something truly superlative from Spain, at least in price: a salt-cured ham costing US$2,100 per leg. It's a price believed to make it the most expensive ham in the world.

Don't grab your wallet just yet. And forget about asking for just a slice. The 2006 Alba Quercus Reserve won't be available until late next year and you must buy the whole ham or nothing.

Its mastermind, Manuel Maldonado, 44, is taking the art of the ham to new heights, pampering his pigs with a free-range lifestyle and top-quality diet of acorns before slaughtering them, then curing the meat for two years -- twice as long as his competitors.

Maldonado credits that last step with creating a delicacy that justifies the price. This is a limited edition piece: Maldonado will produce just 80 to 100 legs.

Maldonado has yet to set a price for customers who buy the 6kg hams directly from him, but the food site Ibergour.com has a dozen for sale at US$2,100 each and is now accepting US$250 deposits for ham available next year.

Source: Taipei Times
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