Every August and Estepona begins to smell of good ham. Because around this time, every year, the prestigious Certamen Mundial de Jamón ‘Popi’ Ciudad de Estepona is held, which is popularly known as the ham fair.


When is the ham fair held?

From August 8 to 15, 2024, Estepona will become the epicenter of Iberian gastronomy with the celebration of the prestigious Certamen Mundial de Jamón ‘Popi’. For one week, this event brings together the best companies dedicated to the production of ham and its derivatives, turning the city into a paradise for lovers of this culinary delicacy. More than fifty exhibitors and professional ham cutters will delight attendees, who will be able to taste ham dishes from 5 euros. In this article, we will take you by the hand through the experiences you can live in this exciting event.


This is the promotional video of the 9th World Popi Ham Contest in the city of Estepona.

Eva Ruiz, godmother of the Estepona Ham Fair

Eva Ruiz as Godmother of the Contest

In this edition, the communicator Eva Ruiz will act as godmother of the contest. Eva Ruiz stressed that the event has established itself as “a national reference during its celebration, where the best ham is enjoyed by the sea and cultural activities are participated in”.

José María Téllez, el Popi

Who is Popi?

El Popi’ is the nickname given to José María Téllez, professional ham cutter and promoter of this great event. His idea has always been to promote both the world of ham and the figure of the ham cutter, which he believes is not sufficiently recognized.

José María Téllez has managed to position Estepona as the ham capital for a few days every year and has raised the name of the city both nationally and internationally through his own outreach work.


Tastings and samplings: exploring the variety and quality of ibérico ham

Estepona’s beautiful promenade is transformed into a kilometer of temptations, where various tents are set up to offer tastings and samplings of ham and other local products. The main objective of these tastings is to showcase to the public the wide variety and extraordinary quality of Spanish Iberian products. You will be able to taste different cuts of ham, appreciate its texture and be seduced by its exquisite flavor. In addition, experts will be available to provide you with information about the different types of ham and share their knowledge about its production and curing.


Free concerts: a musical note to accompany the ham

The Certamen Mundial de Jamón in Estepona is not only limited to gastronomy, but also offers a series of free concerts to liven up and energize these exciting days. Live music creates a festive and lively atmosphere, providing attendees with a complete experience that combines the passion for ham with the enjoyment of music. From traditional tunes to modern rhythms, the musical diversity perfectly complements the culinary ambiance, creating a vibrant and energetic atmosphere.


An event for lovers of gastronomy and Iberian products.

The World Ham Contest “Popi Ciudad de Estepona” has established itself as a unique event for lovers of gastronomy and Iberian products. This is an exceptional opportunity to explore the different flavors and textures of ham, discover new brands and establish direct contact with industry experts. This festival combines culinary culture with music, creating a vibrant and attractive atmosphere that invites you to enjoy and celebrate gastronomic pleasures.


This event once again consolidates Estepona as the undisputed world capital of the Iberian product. With the declaration of ‘Event of Tourist Interest of Andalusia’, annually attracts about half a million people who participate in various scheduled activities.


Program and more information

Popi has already announced the complete program of activities, schedules and artists that will be part of this event. Falete, Fernando Caro and Saray Jiménez, Los Centellas, La Húngara, Los Inhumanos, Seguridad Social, El Callejón, Gloria Bendita, Miguel Sáez and Mario Méndez. A week full of flavors, aromas and melodies awaits you in this event that promises to be unforgettable.

Jamones Popi

How to distinguish a good Iberian ham

Iberian ham is one of Spain’s culinary treasures. With its unique flavor and exquisite texture, it is appreciated all over the world. However, not all Iberian hams are the same. Here we will give you some hints so that you can learn to distinguish a good Iberian ham. From raising the pig to the way it is cut, we will provide you with practical advice to ensure that you are enjoying the best quality Iberian ham. Let’s dive into the world of ham!


What is Iberian ham?

Iberian ham is a type of cured ham from the Iberian pig, a breed native to the Iberian Peninsula. These pigs are raised under special conditions that allow them to develop fat-infiltrated meat, which gives the ham its unique flavor and texture. The curing process for Iberian ham is long and meticulous, and can take up to several years.


Breeding and feeding of Iberian pigs

The rearing and feeding of Iberian pigs play a fundamental role in the quality of Iberian ham. Free-range pigs fed mainly on acorns produce the most exclusive and tasty ham. This type of ham is known as “jamón ibérico de bellota” or “jamón ibérico de montanera”. The acorns give the ham a sweet flavor and distinctive notes that make it unmistakable.


Labels and designations of origin

When buying Iberian ham, it is essential to pay attention to labels and appellations of origin. The “100% Iberian” label guarantees that the ham comes from purebred Iberian pigs. On the other hand, the label “Iberian” indicates that the ham is a mixture of Iberian pigs and other breeds. In addition, designations of origin such as “Protected Designation of Origin” (PDO) or “Protected Geographical Indication” (PGI) certify the authenticity and quality of Iberian ham.


Characteristics of quality Iberian ham

When examining an Iberian ham, there are several characteristics that you should take into account to ensure that you are acquiring a quality product. Here are some of them:

Color and external appearance:

A good Iberian ham should have an intense red color in the lean part and a shiny, golden layer of fat. The fat infiltrated in the meat is what gives it its characteristic juiciness and flavor.

Aroma and flavor:

Quality Iberian ham has an intense and fragrant aroma. Its flavor should be balanced, with sweet and salty nuances that melt on the palate. The ham fat melts slowly, releasing a delicious and lingering flavor.

Texture and veining:

The texture of Iberian ham should be smooth and slightly fibrous. When sliced, thin streaks of fat are evenly distributed throughout the meat. These fat streaks are a sign of quality and contribute to the juiciness and flavor of the ham.


How to choose a good Iberian ham:

When buying Iberian ham, it is important to follow some tips to ensure that you are buying a high quality product. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Buy in specialized stores: Look for stores or delicatessens specialized in Iberian products. These establishments usually have a wide selection of hams and trained personnel who can advise you. All the stalls at the Estepona Ham Fair are a guarantee of quality.
  2. Check the labels: Read the ham labels carefully to make sure it meets quality and origin standards.
  3. Observe the appearance: Examine the ham visually. It should have an attractive color and appearance, with a well distributed fat layer.
  4. Ask for a tasting: If possible, ask for a tasting of the ham before buying it. This way you can evaluate its taste and texture before making a decision.

How to cut and enjoy Iberian ham

Once you have purchased a good Iberian ham, it is important to know how to cut it and enjoy it properly. Here are some tips:

  1. Suitable utensils: Use a sharp ham knife and a cutting board to hold the ham securely.
  2. Thin slices: Cut thin slices of ham, almost transparent. This allows to better appreciate its flavor and texture.
  3. Cutting method: Start by cutting through the narrowest part of the ham, known as the “maza”. Then, it advances towards the widest part, called “contramaza”.
  4. Storage: To keep the ham in good condition, cover it with its own fat and store it in a cool, dry place.
  5. Pairing: Serve Iberian ham with other foods that enhance its flavor, such as crusty bread, extra virgin olive oil and quality wines.

Distinguishing a good Iberian ham requires knowledge and experience, but with these tips you will be better prepared to choose a quality product. Remember to pay attention to the breeding and feeding of the pigs, check the labels and observe the characteristics of the ham. Enjoying a good Iberian ham is a unique culinary experience worth savoring.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about Iberian ham


1. What is the difference between Iberian ham and Serrano ham?

Iberian ham comes from Iberian pigs raised under special conditions, while Serrano ham can come from different breeds of pigs. In addition, Iberian ham is characterized by its greater fat infiltration and more intense flavor.

How long does it take to cure an Iberian ham?

The curing time of an Iberian ham can vary, but generally ranges from 12 to 36 months, depending on the type of ham and the desired quality.

3. Can I buy Iberian ham online?

Yes, many online stores offer quality Iberian ham. However, it is important to research and choose reliable and reputable suppliers.

4. What is the best way to store Iberian ham once it has been opened?

Once opened, it is advisable to cover the exposed cut with the ham’s own fat or with plastic wrap and store it in a cool, dry place. There are also special ham casings that facilitate preservation.

5. What is the best way to enjoy Iberian ham?

Iberian ham is best enjoyed thinly sliced and served at room temperature. It can be enjoyed alone, with bread and olive oil, or paired with quality wines.

Don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of Iberian ham and enjoy a unique gastronomic experience in the heart of the Costa del Sol! Make a note in your diary, in the month of August: Certamen Mundial de Jamón ‘Popi’ Ciudad de Estepona: the ham fair.