This Spanish saying translates to something along the lines of ‘I like everything from the pig, even the way it walks’.
It’s no secret that Spain loves pig. Most eating establishments throughout the country serve this animal in some form or another. The most standout of them all would surely be jamón (the proscuitto of Spain - salty cured ham) and chorizo (you know it - delicious garlicky, paprika-y cured pork sausage).
I lived in Spain for a few years. To cut a long story short I got the opportunity to visit one of the biggest cured meat factories in the country, in the heartland of embutidos (cured meat) - Castilla y Leon. The town, Guijuelo, basically exists for these cured meats factories.
Donning a white coat and hair net, I started the journey through the factory with my guide Angel 😇
🐖 Jamon is big business.
Leading me through the cathedral of hanging hams, Angel spoke with the air of a mob boss. He described the various ‘clients’ who put in orders for ‘the good stuff’ (in reference to the jamon iberico de bellota) years in advance, and the ‘big guys’ (national department store chains like El Corte Ingles) who buy up the majority of the rest. And of course the international shipments.
🐖 A sommelier of cured ham? It’s a thing.
Jamon is graded (with possible imperfections detected) using a sharpened bone taken from the thigh of a horse. They insert it into the ham and then sniff it. Yes, this is a real job. In fact, to become a decent calador, as they’re called, you need years of training and experience (and a naturally good sense of smell of course).
🐖 A meat factory isn’t a nice place...
It’s cold, stark, smelly and visually overwhelming. Seeing so many sausages in various stages of curation really takes the magic out of a charcuterie board.
🐖 … but despite all of that, I still love cured meat.
At the end of the tour Angel and I made our out of the chilled air and into the showroom, where he proceeded to slice a small mountain of the finest cured meats. With a glass of Rioja in one hand and a piece of spicy, red chorizo iberico in the other, the embutido factory experience faded into a distant memory. Thank goodness for that!