Dial M for Matanza

I’m currently on a 5-hour train ride returning from one of the most amazing experiences of my career… and my life.

Acorns, acorns everywhere

While passing through the Extremeñan countryside, you can see rows upon rows of acorn trees and, every so often, a herd of animals rushing from one grove to the next.

But these are no ordinary animals… these are the famous Iberico pigs of Extremadura, and they are one of the main reasons I applied for this scholarship in the first place.

 

Beginning in the beginning: After talking with last year’s ICEX scholarship winners, I heard that the best, most memorable part of their journey was the matanza (the traditional pig slaughter of Spain that yields chorizos, salchichones, jamones, and all manner of porky goodness) in which they partook.

They travelled to The Rocamador during the second part of their tour—an ancient monastery-come 4-star hotel & 1-star restaurant in Extremadura that has a special farm where they conduct their own Matanzas in the old method (meaning EVERYTHING done by hand).

 

Spanish butchery 101

 

 

I was told in hushed, reverential tones that I would learn about Spanish pig butchery.

 

  

 

Learning the secreto of the secreto

I would learn how to locate the secreto, the pluma, the papada; how to cut a jamon; how to make all sorts of pâtés and spreads; but, most importantly, I would learn WHY the matanza is so important to Spanish culture. SWEET.

And then the news came down from the-powers-that-be: NO matanza this year, NO Extremadura, NO learning, NO NADA. Just a visit to a jamon factory with NO TASTING involved. EPIC FAIL.

That is, “epic fail” until Adolfo and The Most Interesting Man in The World (MIMW: you know who you are) heard my plight—and agreed to help. A few phone calls later and Carlos, the owner of Rocamador and coolest pig guy this side of Alan Benton and Jimmy Dean, agreed to put me up and let me learn. 

Head to Bardajoz, 2nd star on right, straight on till morning

So my ass got on the first thing smoking to the most secluded area of Spain…          
                                                         

And at this point, I am going to take a moment and give props to Carlos, his family, and the folks of The Rocamador: Listen up… this place, these people, everything here SERIOUSLY ROCKS.

La Familia with Sr. Goofball Rodolfo

Talk about gracious hospitality: These guys let me hang out and ask annoying questions for over 2 weeks, made me feel like part of the family, taught me everything possible in the limited time I was there, let me work where and when I wanted, and even fed me some of the most amazing products:                                                        

Fatty, delicious secreto

Local oranges with more flavor than a Sunkist wet dream, secretos of Iberico more marbled than kobe beef,  and the migas—oh, the migas that they made for every morning of the matanza.

Migas & Cowboy Coffee

You probably figured out: I think this place is INCREDIBLE—a very special, historic, and beautiful gem in the heart of Spain.     

In your lifetime, you absolutely must visit to appreciate what food is and where it comes from—and if you are a food person or lover of all things pig, drop what you are doing right now and get on a plane. You have NEVER tasted pork like this, folks…

With mis maestras

Next post is part 2 from Extremadura… stay tuned, Bat Fans.

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One Response to “Dial M for Matanza”

  1. My dear friend, this article is amazing. I´m glad you have your life back, after a hard work in Spain, we are looking forward to see you soon.
    Mi casa es tu casa.
    OLFO

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