The Sierra Nevada mountain range’s highest point, Mulahacen (3478 m), is also the highest point
on the Spanish mainland. In winter the mountains are snow-capped and support a thriving ski centre. Our visit in October was made in clear blue skies and hot sunshine with images of snow restricted to postcards. On the high mountains the thin air is generally dry and provides ideal conditions for the curing of one of Spain’s main culinary delights – jamón.
We drove the winding and sometimes steep and narrow road 35 km from Órgiva to Trevélez; at an altitude of about 1500 m it is one of Spain’s highest villages, picturesquely situated in one of the high valleys. On emerging from the car the aroma of the curing legs of ham was immediately apparent and enticed us to see more of the process in some of the premises near the village entrance. In addition to being a centre for producing what is regarded as some of the best jamón in Spain, Trevélez has become a tourist centre with a wide range to good and bad tourist trinkets on sale. Our visit in the evening was well-timed, however, as most of the tourists had left (we had encountered some of their busses during our climb) and the town was quiet and peaceful.
In some of the curing premises ceilings were festooned with hams, each with a small plastic cup beneath to catch dripping oils as the curing process progressed and exuded the distinctive aroma that had greeted our arrival in the village. As an enticement to buy, visitors can sample not only the jamón, but also other pork-based products such as locally produced chorizo and salchichón. Of course the tourist is also able to buy complete legs of jamón but how Easyjet or UK Border Control would receive such items is unclear – we have not tested these systems!