The One Thing To Do In Madrid — Stand Up and Eat Ham

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You need to have that in you right now. Unfortunately, you can only get it in Madrid.

Sure, it’s just a plate of various types of cured ham, manchego cheese, bread and beer, but it’s must more than it. It’s Spain on a plate for lunch.

The place to get this piggy and cheese goodness is Museo del Jamon in Madrid. Easy translation, Museum of Ham. There isn’t a better name than that for this emporium of all things ham.

What’s pictured above is the sampler plate of different cuts from the Ibérico and Serrano pigs. The coveted Ibérico or Iberian pig are partially raised in the wild so that they can feast on acorns from holm and cork trees. Once cured, the diet gives the slices a rich, nutty flavor. Serrano pigs are raised on farms and fed a steady diet of cereal feed. The big slabs of meat are then cured for over a year at high altitudes to avoid moisture.

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You’ll see these big hunks of joy hanging all over the restaurant. It’s like looking around a strip club as a 21-year old. Your mouth is open and you are at a loss for words. There’s just so much to look at!

With the sampler comes some beautiful manchego from the La Mancha region. They gave us Don Quixote and fine cheese.

Get some bread in there and a cold glass of beer and you’re all set for some lunch action.

Best of all, you can stand at the counter like the locals do. That’s what makes it a specific Madrileño experience. The city loves tradition. While Barcelona is the modern, forward-thinking partner to the east, Madrid likes its old things. You stand with friends, family and co-workers, have a leisurely, simple lunch, read the paper and go on with your business.

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As a traveler, one of the best ways to save time and money is to eat standing up or from a street vender. If you sit down, you’ll spend more time trying to get the check and figuring out if you tip or not than actually eating.

Even with tapas, it’s best standing up. I get miffed when I see tapas restaurants in America that boast of their authenticity. If they truly were trying to recreate a tapas restaurant from Spain they would have a bar where you can stand and see all trays of food available under the counter.

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With five locations around Madrid, Museo del Jamon is the best lunch you can get in town. The most convenient and centralized locations are on the Gran Via and Calle de Alcalá by the Barclaycard Center. Sorry Brooklyn, there’s another Barclay’s arena in the world.

The restaurants have a full menu of other traditional foods like croquettes, fried fish, small sandwiches, omelets and black sausages. You can also get the ham to go and have a little picnic at Casa de Campo or Retiro Park. Just don’t take it home with you. It’s not safe for travel due to possible cross contamination. Customs will take it and destroy it in big ball of fire and brimstone. TSA should put that on its Instagram account.

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