The slaughter of pigs on Mallorca

Pigs have always been important in rural life, and indeed still are. The salty meat (off the bone, or bacon) and sausage products such as sobrasada (Mallorcan sausage), botifarrons, (Catalan sausage), camaiot (mixed sausage) and blanquets (sausage made from lard and pine kernels), are local delicacies. It was almost the only type of meat that was eaten by country dwellers during much of the year, and it is not at all surprising that it has such an important role within Mallorcan gastronomy. The festival of the slaughter of pigs is an important event in the winter calendar in rural Mallorca, and families get together on the day of the slaughter to make a celebration out of it. Most of the meat is used for sausage production, and absolutely everything that can be used in processing is taken advantage of. Once the work is finished, the feast begins; in past times, the celebration included music and dancing, but this part of the tradition has fallen by the wayside. This celebration is still very much alive, and even families who don’t work the land often fatten up a pig throughout the year, or buy one that is ready fattened, so as to slaughter it for the festival. The meat for the top quality sausages that are available on the island is thereby obtained, especially for sobrasada, which is eaten throughout the year. It is unlikely that this event will be kept going for much longer, because as the people who lived in the rural Mallorca prior to the tourist boom of the 1960s leave us, the tradition will decline. The current diet, in which fresh meat is a key part, has taken away a lot of the importance of sausage products as a source of protein, and in addition to this, the majority of the current generations have not been brought up in the way of the land and its working practices.

The Mallorcan pig is black, with light or slate-grey shading. This pigmentation is appropriate for the island’s climate, as it means that the animal has more protection from solar rays. However, the traditional white pig is more common on the island due to the production of high quality sausage products that is carried out.

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