Angel Cardoso pictured lives in Lara Victoria. On this day last year Primesafe [the body that governs meat processing in Victoria] raided his property and removed all his stock of naturally matured Spanish style smallgoods and took them away to be destroyed. The stock amounted to many hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of, for my money, the best charcuterie being made in Australia at that time. Angel is over 70 fit and feisty years old, and for the last 30 years or so has devoted his life to bringing to Australia the wonderful tastes of his native Spain in the form of Jamon, Lomo, Chorizo, Morcilla and such. Products that are now at the forefront of a very neophillic food culture in Australia. At about the same time last year or just before, the laws governing the importation of Jamon from Spain and other European countries were relaxed and naturally made Jamon using the same techniques as Angel used were allowed to be imported. And boy do we know about those now! The explanation that primesafe made was that Cardoso smallgoods were a threat to human consumption. No general alert was issued and it was possible to purchase product from reputable suppliers for months until they ran out. As far as I know no samples were kept for analysis to back up the claim that they were dangerous. I have known Angel for over 15 years and during that time have enjoyed and used in the restaurant many hundreds of kilos of his wonderful products with not one incident to suggest they were in any way dodgy. Over the years Angel's fame grew and many good restaurants and delis proudly sold his products. From Anthony Bourdain to Stephanie Alexander he was hailed as a pioneer with many palates pleased over the years. Angel is a very proud and sometimes difficult man totally devoted ,you could say fanatically, to his craft.
His reputation, as well as his livelihood has been destroyed. He now has to watch imported products take over the market with little chance of a local maker willing to take up the challenge of making these artisan goods in this country for a long while. His dream is to teach some young people to prepare them. I miss them so much. After tasting some of the imported Jamon I can honestly say that none of them have the vibrant flavours that Angel's have. Angel's products are unique full of life like a living cheese. No Roquefort style funeral was offered for the hundreds of Jamon, just a sad anonymous end at an unknown tip?
While you are enjoying this year's festivities have a good look at the ham you are eating.
The powers that be have allowed imported Canadian pork to be fused to a local pig bone to make ham that is allowed to be sold here. I am not saying that they are a threat to "human consumption" but it does not seem like an improvement to me. If Angel was more articulate, better connected and less proud, this would have been the biggest food story of 2007. There is more to this than we have been told.