The ritual of slaughtering a pig (Matanza) was once of great importance for the rural populations of Spain. This annual event would ensure the larder was stocked with meat for the coming year, and that the calories needed to carry out all that hard manual farm work were at hand.
Taking place in winter when the cooler weather allows for less haste and less bacteria, the matanza is a family event with everyone coming together to help and feast over a number of days. Neighbors will also join together, helping each other out in return for an armful of chorizo or morcilla. The men are responsible for killing and butchering the pig, whilst the women take care of all the preparation.
Not wanting to get into any details I’ll just add that the animal is killed in a humane way. Once the pig is dead, the hair is removed with a gas-powered paint remover. Every part of the animal is carefully collected and used, nothing goes to waste. Wooden fires are started up , and huge kettles of water at set upon then to boil. With around 10 people the whole process takes around 5-6 hours. And the reward to all the people who helped is a grand meal.
By Oliver Weber