What is La Matanza in rural Andalucía?

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Vegetarians avert your eyes?

La matanza is upon us again. From November through to February is the season to slaughter pigs and cure the meats. Matar is the verb to kill so matanza just means 'the killing'.

The tradition dates back centuries with the idea that the meat, when fresh, would be kept cold in the winter as it hangs to cure. By the time the heat of the spring and summer arrives, the meats are cured and perfectly safe to be kept at any temperature.

The famous Spanish cured hams, lomo, chorizo and salchichon are really just a means of keeping meat going year round.

The matanza traditionally starts on 11 November, Saint Martin's Day. In Spain there is a common expression 'A cada santo le llega su San Martin' which translates as -everyone has their judgment day'.

In rural Andalucía most people keep a few pigs so the matanza is something of a family ritual where all hands to the pump are needed. It's a really long couple of days work but it's a jolly affair usually accompanied by lots to eat and drink. I told you this wasn't great for vegetarians.

You might be glad to know that our holidays to Andalucia are rather more about enjoying the end product of the matanza than being there at the start, our foodie walking holiday in particular.

However, if you do want to go at this time of year, though the weather can be cold, you can help Lola and Armando make their fantastic chorizo.

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