Jamonopolis: Entrance to Fama Deli

#Gauteng52, Week 30: The Joburg Jamonópolis

Welcome to Week 30 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Fama Deli, Johannesburg’s Jamonópolis.

When I first started the #Gauteng52 challenge, I put out a call to my readers and friends asking for recommendations on places to go. (If you’re one of the recommenders, don’t worry if I haven’t visited your place yet. I’m working slowly through the list.)

One of the most intriguing recommendations came from my friend Robyn, who suggested a visit to the “Jamón Man”.

The Jamón Man is a man who sells jamón (Spanish for ham). Well actually it’s not just one man; it’s a man and his wife and their staff. And it’s not just ham; the Jamón Man sells every kind of pork imaginable, cured in the traditional Spanish style. And the place is not actually called Jamonópolis de Johanesburgo, as the sign says; its official name is the Fama Deli.

Other than that it’s all exactly like it sounds.

Jamonopolis: Entrance to Fama DeliBehold: La Jamonópolis de Johanesburgo.

The Fama Deli is in Lorentzville, a downtrodden Joburg neighborhood not far from Maboneng. The first notable thing is the crazy entrance: The big sign, “Bienvenidos at la Jamonópolis de Johannesburg”, is impossible miss, surrounded by bright red and yellow paint and Winnie the Pooh stickers. (There’s a nursery school upstairs.) The deli is on the ground floor, behind a complicated and highly secure series of doors.

Inside, a porky wonderland awaits.

The Fama Deli: Jamonopólis de Johanesburgo

Pig's feat and pork at Fama DeliThe pig’s feet are for show — the deli doesn’t sell those anymore.

The Fama Deli has an interesting story. It was founded in 1987 by Roberto Sa Gimenez, a Spanish immigrant. Roberto learned the trade of making Spanish cured meat from his father, who learned it from Roberto’s grandfather. But Roberto is a bachelor and had no one to whom he could hand down his knowledge.

Before retiring, Roberto met Nuno Fernandes, who was running a chain of cafés and often bought meat from the Fama Deli. (Interestingly, Nuno worked as a mechanical engineer before moving into the restaurant business.) Roberto felt Nuno and his wife Carla were the perfect people to take over the business. So Roberto sold Fama Deli to the Fernandeses and taught them everything he knew.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Nuno Fernandes, owner of Fama DeliNuno Fernandes, the Jamón Man.

Nuno and his wife are Portuguese, not Spanish. (There are very few Spaniards in South Africa, while there are thousands of Portuguese.) But they continue to cure all their meats in the Spanish style, rather than smoking them in the more common Portuguese style.

I tasted pretty much everything. It was all delicious.

Salami at Fama deliThe first salami we tasted.

Nuno with another salamiAnother kind of salami, I think. I love the shape.

Slicing salamiWe tasted many meats. I lost track of their names.

CoppaI’m pretty sure this one is coppa.

Slicing chorizoThe last meat we tried — a spicy chorizo. I bought a big chunk of this one for a very reasonable price.

Crema de membrilloCrema de membrillo, which is a kind of marmalade made with quince. This seemed to be the only non-meat offering at Fama. I didn’t buy any but wish I had — I’ll bet it’s delicious with cheese.

Nuno took us to the curing room in the back, where the temperature and humidity are strictly controlled.

Curing at Fama DeliYum.

Jamon manOne more shot of the Jamón Man.

The Fama Deli supplies many shops and restaurants around the country but it’s also open for retail, Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Saturday from 8:00 to 2:00.

The Fama Deli is at 12 Viljoen Street, Lorentzville. Call +27-11-618-3048.

Read all of my #Gauteng52 posts and check out the interactive #Gauteng52 map.

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15 Comments

  • Reply Jess July 25, 2017 at 9:57 am

    This is so cool. You have really found some gems with this series.

    • Reply 2summers July 31, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      Thanks so much. You’d love this place.

  • Reply Carol July 25, 2017 at 10:59 am

    I’d like to introduce you to a few new places – what is your e-mail?

    • Reply 2summers July 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      Hi there, thanks! You can send me emails through the ‘Contact Me’ page on my blog.

  • Reply Gail Scott Wilson July 25, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    One of my favourite shops and thankfully close to home.

  • Reply autumnashbough July 25, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    I wonder what the differences are between Spanish pork products and Italian. Is there a prosciutto equivalent?

    • Reply 2summers July 30, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      Yes, I think they do make prosciutto too. Very similar to the Italian style I think.

  • Reply Rosemary July 25, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Great to see business is thriving….and keeping up some European traditions

  • Reply UnderAnAfricanSun July 25, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    The Frencie will love this, he is always complaining about the chorizo here.

    • Reply 2summers July 30, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      Oh yes he has to go then.

  • Reply Lani July 28, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Looks like a slice of heaven…

  • Reply Peter July 29, 2017 at 2:47 am

    Nice photographs, looks like a very clean place to get very good antipasto!

    • Reply 2summers July 30, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Definitely.

  • Reply Rebecca August 13, 2017 at 1:21 am

    Mmmm… ham… Looks like you were lucky enough to get a bit of a private tour and tasting!

    • Reply 2summers August 13, 2017 at 6:51 am

      Yes! I was taking pics for a newspaper article 🙂

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