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Ham and Cheese - where to start?!

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I'm studying abroad in Spain and would love to use this opportunity to learn more about Spanish ham and cheese. I'd love to taste some different varieties but am overwhelmed and completely ignorant when shopping at the stores. Where should I start? Which are the most well-known/typical? What are your favorites?
All suggestions are more than welcome. Muchas Gracias!

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  1. Jamon Iberico' is probably the best known - there are different grades & manufacturers you can try, but I feel the best ham in the world - far superior to serrano or proscuitto.

    1. Since you'll be there for a while, and you'll have some opportunity for trial and error, my advice would be: 1)Old Lady Index and 2)You get what you pay for.

      Look for the markets and shops that attract the gangs of little old ladies, and once you've found them, buy a little bit of the most expensive ham or cheese they have. Ask what it's called, and then go home and try it. When it's so good your eyes roll back in your head, you've learned something really valuable.

      Good luck and enjoy yourself!

      1. For ham, go to charcutería, a really good stall in a market or El Corte Inglés and start with 100 grams or so of hand-cut jamón ibérico de bellota Joselito Gran Reserva. Or jamón iberico de bellota 5j de sanchez romero carvajal . This is among the very, very best. Then you can work your way down (though you might not want to...).