What Do You Do With A Drunken (French) Sailor?

There’s a style of writing, called “The Confessional”, where the writer talks about their personal life, often in great detail. Sometimes the stories may include spouses or partners. Other times, there might be scenes of intimate family gatherings. Or in extreme instances, they could involve, say, drunken French sailors. And on a less-titillating note, cats for some reason frequently show up as well.

I don’t write like that for several reasons: a) Because I don’t have a cat, b) Because my apartment is too small for anything very exciting to happen, and c) I’m a good boy.

(That is, unless you count that weekend when I first moved here and a friend shared the secret for having beaucoup de relations internationaux.)

Oh-la-la! C’est magnifiq…

Oops. Sorry. I digress…

So I’m ready to admit who I’m sharing my apartment with right now. I thought the time was right to let you all in on it, since it’s gotten to the point where I can no longer contain myself.


I’ve had this big, hairy hunk lying around my apartment for the past few weeks, and let me tell you, this is the best piece of meat I’ve ever had around here.

Jamón Ibérico is the most delicious ham in the world, cured from black-footed pigs which forage around the forests in Spain, snorting up wild acorns, which gives the meat has a distinctly nutty, earthy, yet robust flavor. The ham needs to be hand sliced, and ultra-thin, s’il vous plait, which is rather difficult since the meat is moist and for some reason (which I don’t remember from high-school biology) the pig leg has a bunch of wavy bones and joints that curve in more directions than a French driver does navigating around the Arc de Triomphe.

The best way to do anything, including setting up les liasions, is to ‘practice’. So I borrowed a long, thin knife and a friend fashioned a wooden ham-stand for me that’s taking up three-quarters of my precious kitchen counter space, to hold the greasy jambe in place while I sliced and sliced and sliced until I got almost picture-perfect pieces of the silky-smooth ham. Whisper-thin, and delectable, I’ve been enjoying it with chilled glasses of Banyuls, a fortified wine from area near the Spanish border. A delightful pairing, and one I recommend.


So now I know what to do with a Spanish ham, although I still don’t know what I would do with a drunken sailor around here. But I guess that’s not going to ever be a problem, since I’m in the midst of an extended rendez-vous with a certain Spanish suitor.

In Paris, Jamón Ibérico is available at chez David, as well as:

da rosa
(Casual café and épicerie)
62, rue de la Seine
Tél: 01 40 51 00 09

(Slightly-upscale, but very friendly café and épicerie)
18, rue Jean Nicot
Tél: 01 53 59 96 96

Sur Les Quais
Épicerie (to go only)
Marche d’Aligre
Tél: 01 43 43 21 09

A number of butchers and charcuteries in Paris sell Spanish lomo, the loin, which has the same flavor of Jamón Ibérico, but is less costly.

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  • December 23, 2006 3:25am

    Curious minds want to know.. did you buy a whole ham.. or just the end of one?

    Often my ham buys let me buy the last bits cheaper.

    I think Iberian hams go for about 78 a kilo here sliced.. bone in I am not sure!

    We have teh cinta senese..which is similar.

  • December 23, 2006 9:41am

    Oh darling, I could find a million uses for a drunken sailor, all of which I will not share HERE on this fine website of delicious things.

    Do you think you could show us your Wooden Ham Stand? Wait, that didn’t sound right. But you know what I mean. I had a leg left over from a photoshoot and wish I had brought back one of those iron jamonerias from Spain, but one doesn’t really anticipate having a huge leg of amazing Spanish Jamon. Drunken French Sailer yes, cured ham no.

    My slices never looked as good as yours. Sigh.

  • Taina
    December 23, 2006 10:41am

    You can also buy it at Cap Hispania, a Spanish grocer in the 17eme.
    Which is where I splurged on some and came away disappointingly underwhelmed…maybe it was a bad ham?
    I will give it a second chance at a different supplier, but I have a feeling I will remain loyal to my own personal fave, prosciutto di San Daniele.
    Happy holidays to you, David!

  • December 23, 2006 2:22pm

    Is this what you mean?

    “Nevertheless each year at this time I do my best to make up for at least one devout Catholic by taking up a new vice for 40 days. I’d tell you what my new vice is this year, but since the episode back in ’84 with the penguin and choir director I’ve found it best to keep that to myself — you don’t want to spend a weekend in jail with an angry penguin.”


  • December 23, 2006 6:26pm

    David, you kill me. Thanks for the laughter today.

    May you and your dear, hairy ham have a wonderful Christmas.

  • Robert
    December 24, 2006 12:49am

    Happy Christmas, M’sieur Le Bovitz.

  • December 24, 2006 1:34am

    Oh David. You’re such a ham. Don’t go through it too quickly, though. I expect you to still have a bit left over to share should I ever come to visit.

  • December 24, 2006 3:14am

    Matt: There’s a picture of my homemade ham stand here.

    Robert: Thanks!

    Brett: I doubt there’s going to be any left…but I just just where to go for more!

    Shauna: My ham is a fine companion, except how does one get ham-stains off their sheets?

    Kevin: Penguins??

    Diva: It was a gift…a whole ham!

    Taina: I like the Italian hams too, but the Spanish hams are really the best (in my opinion!) Try a few slices of lomo, next time you’re at the ham place and see if they don’t change your mind.

  • Alisa
    December 24, 2006 10:08am

    Ahhhh, that was great. The post. The ham. The wine….. You are a very funny man!!!!

  • December 24, 2006 3:06pm

    When we lived in Andorra these wonderful hams filled the shops from November on. I always wanted to buy one, with the cute little ham stand that went with them. It’s a bit much for two, though, so I just bought freshly sliced bits from the local butcher.
    Heaven on a plate, with some nice Ribero del Duero to wash it down…

    Joyeux Noel!

  • December 24, 2006 5:20pm

    We can get the Jamón Ibérico in Australia, if your prepared to hunt around & pay AUD400/kg. But try as i might, I have not been able to find a drunken (French) sailor. Anyone want to send some to Australia (the Jamón that is)?

  • December 26, 2006 10:55pm

    wow what a lovely photo! i love spanish jamon but have never had jamon iberico. i did order iberico bellota lomo from the first iberico shipment to the us but i’m still waiting on the jamon iberico to come over. how do you store your jamon by the way???

  • December 27, 2006 3:29am

    Yoony: You can see my homemade ham stand here. They say to store it with a flap of ham fat over the exposed meat, to keep it fresh, but I did that and was surprised when I peeled it back a few days later and found a bunch of mold. So now I use plastic wrap, loosely draped over it. I found the had tastes better when the meat is slightly dried out anyways.

    Paul: I don’t think it matters where you live…drunken French sailors are not that easy to come by. Trust me!

  • Susan
    December 27, 2006 10:08am

    I am glad that my jamon found a good home. I would have had an easier time bringing home a drunken sailor to the US! Too bad I actually have a stand for the jamon. Happy New Year!