At Last, Muslims Can Savor A Halal Spin On Spain's Famous Jamón : The Salt Authentic jamón ibérico from free-range pigs fed on acorns is a key Spanish food that observant Muslims can't enjoy. But a Tunisian emigre is now making halal ham from lamb and beef in southern Spain.

At Last, Muslims Can Savor A Halal Spin On Spain's Famous Jamón

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Spanish ham is one of that country's many culinary treats. But observant Muslims who don't eat pork have not been able to enjoy it until now. Lauren Frayer reports on Spain's halal ham for Muslims.



LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Deep in the mountains of Andalusia in southeast Spain, a ham festival is underway. This is the heart of Spain's most authentic ham producing region. Fat, black pigs roam free in pastures, eating acorns.

JESUS SANCHEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: Curing ham goes back to the 17th century here, says town councilman Jesus Sanchez. We worship the patron saint of pig slaughters, San Anton. The air here at 2,300 feet helps dry and cure ham perfectly.

SANCHEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: It melts in your mouth so smooth, Jesus says, it tastes and smells like the countryside here, a taste Muslim visitors like Faysal Mrad Dali could never experience.

FAYSAL MRAD DALI: The first time I come with my family in Spain in Andalusia and I say, why the Muslims don't have this?

FRAYER: So he set out to create it. Faysal moved from Belgium and invented Spain's first halal ham, which is actually lamb and sometimes beef. The animals are slaughtered according to Muslim tradition and cured the same way as pork.


DALI: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: (Speaking Spanish).

Faysal's curing room is lined with lamb legs, pate, beef sausages. He slices some for me.

DALI: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: (Speaking Spanish).

DALI: (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: (Speaking Spanish). Wow.

Faysal sells his products online, across Europe and here in Spain, which was ruled by Muslims in the middle ages and has seen an influx of Muslim tourists in recent years. Even so, Faysal says when he first set up his business, he got some strange looks from locals.

DALI: They come here. I am the only Muslim in the village. And everybody say, (speaking Spanish)...

FRAYER: He's a bit crazy.

DALI: He's crazy. (Speaking Spanish).

FRAYER: But this has been a dream for me as a Muslim, he says, switching into Spanish. I'm living and making my product in a region where Muslims, Jews and Christians have a history of living and eating together. Incidentally, Spain doesn't want Jews to be left out either. This country also has kosher ham made from duck or goose. For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Cumbres Mayores, Spain.

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