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Jamon al chino? Que no!

January 12, 2012 – 11:30 am

If you live here in Spain, you’ll be used to seeing Chinese shops in every town. They are stacked high with ridiculously cheap goods, from clothes to toys to garden furniture and household crockery. Much of it is poor quality – I call it “CCC” – cheap crap from China. A high percentage of the toys are plastic, and break or fall apart after a few uses, especially when being manhandled by small, not-very-gentle kids like mine. I have more or less banned them from the house.

The Chinese are very good at imitating Western goods – some of their cars look very stylish. And we all know about the knock-off designer bags, belts and watches sold on street corners in every city of the world – Prada, Hermes, Gucci, Tag Heuer…

But now, a new product, made in China but based on a Spanish original, has had its marca (brand) removed, after the Spanish Embassy’s Economic and Commercial Office in China spotted the (ab)use of an official registered name. Here’s a clue.

A porker destined for your plate (though not from Jabugo).

Two Chinese businessmen had applied to have the marcas “Jabugo” and “Hamen Jabugo” registered, in 2006 and 2007; they were accepted in 2009.

Jabugo is world-renowned top-quality jamon serrano (air-dried mountain ham) from this Huelva town, which is included in the Denominacion de Origen (DO) Jamon de Huelva.

The DO’s Regulatory Council wrote to the Office of Brands of China’s Industry and Business Department, to explain its condemnation of the two “Jabugo” brands, and requesting the removal of them. Yesterday it was announced by a delighted Spanish press (especially here in Andalucia) that the Chinese had accepted the Onubenses’ complaint.

It’s an interesting case, which proves that while, with many products, the Chinese can’t be beaten for their monumental economies of scale, some traditional, geographically-specific food cannot be imitated or reproduced in another country, however sophisticated the techniques employed.

It also represents an important victory by a region of Andalucia, not by any means a world economic power, against exactly that. It must be a sweet victory for the people of Jabugo, and the Huelvan DO. And it’s a lesson to anyone who wants to try and imitate a Spanish one-off: don’t take our name in vain.

  1. 2 Responses to “Jamon al chino? Que no!”

  2. The famous Jabugo jamon is, in my experience at least, jamón ibérico and not jamón serrano. It comes from cerdo ibérico and not white Landrace pigs. This wikipedia page gives a good outline of the differences:ón

    By Matthew Leon on Jan 12, 2012

  3. Thanks for spotting that, Matthew, updated accordingly. It’s good to know our readers are sharp-eyed! As a veggie, my awareness of the subtleties of jamon is probably not what it should be.

    By fiona on Jan 12, 2012

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