I guess some of my readers have not read the last blog. It is heavy going I agree. But at the same time I think it is important, especially as pigs are now being needlessly killed for lack of qualified butchers. In the UK this is mostly due to Brexit and Covid. The tradesmen have simply returned to their native countries and most not returned, either willingly or prevented from doing so. In the meantime the British young are not eager to take up this profession.
So as I try to resurrect my memory of the final meat preparation, I keep on coming across major headlines in the BBC, Sky, the Guardian and the Telegraph. Even the New York Times. Farmers are literally crying for their carefully reared pigs that cannot be slaughtered either humanely or legally for the hungry pork market. Instead they are being killed and thrown away.
Here I will touch through the uses they are put to when it is done as allowed, at least in Spain in 2011. I wrote the draft blog 10 years ago, but lost it or, probably more likely, accidentally over-wrote it. At the time I was afraid to publish it. After 10 years my memory is a bit sketchy. Luckily the photos aid.
These photos were taken in the back rooms of the carniceria “Embutidos Centelles” opposite Ramon’s. Each room had a different function run by the same crew as at the abattoir. In the first room I entered they were gathered around a large table under glaring lights.
Here they expertly hacked and chopped the cuts; the loins, fillets, chops, ribs, trotters and hocks. The coarser meat was set aside for sausages and the upper hind legs were kept for those prized Spanish hams.
Working methodically and efficiently, each hollowed pig was dispatched with impressive speed. Once that stage came to an end, the room was hosed down and disinfected, then hosed again. The cuts were stored in cavernous walk-in fridges to be dealt with later. Then the team took a break for breakfast.
After refreshment the men returned to make the sausages, according to various recipes created by the manager Arcadio. Big Sausages, small dinky ones, blood sausages and of course chorizo.
At the same time in an adjacent room the sausages were sterilised in a huge square lidded kettle containing salted water and onions – these add flavour plus anti-bacterial properties. How on earth I thought did a fresh sausage ever appear even fresh?
I found it interesting that the traditional sausages start off “fresh” and can be eaten as such until they begin to dry. Then you have to wait for the curing process to complete.
A red string indicates that it is spicy, and a white one that it is not. In these parts most folks do not like anything really spicy. Actually chorizo is tame to extremes in El Maestrat; it has that distinctive chorizo flavour but not much bite. By the way, this shop makes spicy and plain on different days so as not to confuse the flavours. I’m not sure if the onions are added to the chorizo.
In yet another room with a sink the intestines were dealt with. I think there was yet more cleaning to be done. And the blood sausages (morcilla) to be prepared.
Although at that time the carniceria cured its own hams, three years later it stopped as there was a problem in the final curing room with humidity. The owner Rufino had repeatedly tried to address the damp to no avail. In addition the market was simply too competitive to justify the time it required to produce a fine cured ham in such conditions. Truth is I am repeatedly stunned at how cheap a whole ham can be in Spain.
So that is that. No more pig blogs. Short and sweet for me and the links here are ALL recent. Talk about starting to write about something that is suddenly big news!
For pig news from the USA click here
More on killing pigs needlessly click here
One way more that pigs help man
The importance and politicalisation of pigs re Brexit
For a gallery of photos in the process of being updated click here
(so wait a week!)