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Postcard from…Mark Zuckerberg

The CEO of Facebook was in Barcelona this week attending the Mobile World Congress. If he had written us a postcard it might have read something like this...

Postcard from…Mark Zuckerberg
Photo: Callahan/Barcelona postcard: Shutterstock

Hey guys, what's up?

There were some awesome sights at this year’s Mobile World Congress, and what a city to hold it in! Barcelona was incredible and guess what? I didn’t even have to wear my hoodie it was so warm.

I came to talk about my project to provide free web access to the world’s poorest people, cuz I just think it is so important for advertisers that everyone the world over gets a chance to log on to Facebook.

Despite all the cool tech on display there were other things on my mind, namely, ham. I had heard rumor of the melt in your mouth amazingness of Spanish jamón but it was truly beyond my wildest dreams. Certainly beat mom’s over-boiled Christmas ham hands down. I might get ham’s official ambassador to come to Silicon Valley and slice us up some of the good stuff so you can experience what I did. A little slice of porky heaven.

But enough about ham! Travelling to Barcelona also gave me the opportunity to meet one of my all time heroes, whose poster adorned my wall at Harvard. And I also met her husband, Gerard Piqué. Yes, Shakira and I had dinner together and it was epic. I know you guys are super jealous right now and let me tell ya, you should be! She was super friendly and even brushed my leg at one point, which made me a little embarrassed but, c’mon, who wouldn’t be!

As for those activists protesting against Facebook, I wish they’d just give us a break! One woman accused me of being all over her nipples, which I can assure you (and my wife) I was not. But I heard these Femen chicks show off their goods all the time, so that kind of made me feel less special.

Watching Madonna dressed as a matador at the Grammy’s made me really want to catch a bullfight, but then someone told me they were banned here in Barcelona, bummer! Guess I’ll just go chill with some ham instead, gotta load up before heading back Stateside.

Catch you later!

MZ

(As imagined by The Local)

JAMON

Women enter the select male world of Spanish ham cutters

In Spain, cutting "jamon" is a fully-fledged job that brings prestige and money, a man's world which women are only just starting to take on.

Women enter the select male world of Spanish ham cutters
Photo: AFP

High-level cutters of the country's world-famous dry-cured ham legs, which can fetch 3,000 euros in markets like China, are employed by top restaurants, at weddings or glitzy events.

But women are still a rarity among these “rock stars” of the ham sector.

Puri Garabaya, 31, was the first so-called cortadora (cutter) to take part in the final of the Spanish Championships for Jamon Cutters in southern Jabugo last weekend.

She didn't win but told AFP before the competition that her presence was crucial “for all women who can now say: 'Look, we too can get there'.”

3,500 euros to cut ham

For this select group, cutting ham is an art, the slices so thin they're near transparent, among other techniques.

“For a 'cortador' to become a master, he must be capable of transforming the cutting process into sensations, into harmony and emotions,” says Florencio Sanchidrian.

A well-known “cortador”, Sanchidrian has cut jamon for the likes of actors Robert de Niro and Al Pacino, Pope John Paul II, the Spanish king and former US president Barack Obama.

He has earned 3,500 euros for just one cutting session, “sometimes more.”

“We're a little like rock stars, each of us has their own reputation,” jokes Raquel Acosta, another “cortadora” — the “a” at the end indicating the feminine classification of the noun as opposed to “cortador” for a man.

Aged 27, Acosta is a pioneer in this very masculine world along with Garabaya.

She started off in a jamon store in the western city of Salamanca.

At the time though, “I didn't know of any woman who had taken part in a competition,” she says.

“You didn't even hear the word 'cortadora'. If you looked it up on Google, you came up with a machine that cuts ham.”

Now though, she has travelled to Berlin, Paris, Marseille and London to promote Iberian ham, an opportunity that would have been “unimaginable” before.

Still, she says there are very few women who work at that level, between five and 10.

New image

“Women were forced to work harder to enter this world,” acknowledges Manuel Pradas, an advisor to “cortadores” in Barcelona and an expert on the sector.

He says ham was “long cut in a rudimentary manner,” a reflection of the Spain of the past that was “more chauvinistic.”

But at the turn of the century emerged “a new image of the cortador who has studied all the different cutting techniques” and focuses more on presentation in a bid to give the job more prestige, he adds.

This new image has allowed women — who say they cut ham with more “finesse” than their male counterparts — to enter the ham cutters' world.

Social media also contributed to bettering the visibility of “cortadoras,” according to Miriam Lopez, founder of the specialised blog Jamon Lovers.

With 11,000 followers on her Instagram account, Raquel Acosta is “the most famous,” says Lopez.

“Raquel is an example,” agrees Luz Maria Zamorano, 35, who in her three years as a “cortadora” has cut some 2,000 ham legs.

“It's a masculine world but I believed that you could bring a feminine touch,” she says.

And at a time when women's rights are more than ever on the agenda, jamon producers, hotels and television channels are banking on this.

Pradas himself manages in Barcelona a team of 25 “cortadores” that includes seven women who bring “freshness” to the group, he says.

READ ALSO: Meet the Spaniard making morcilla with his very own blood!

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