Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Matanza: not for the squeamish

Not for the squeamish!
December is a busy month in Andalucia. Yes, I know it’s Christmas.... but here people are busy with other things: there is the start of the olive harvest and of course the fattened pig has to be slaughtered. It's called 'matanza'. The whole family gets together and helps (more or less). It’s a real family gathering. The children are all there every year and when they are adults they have seen it so many times that they can do it themselves.
I was privileged to be invited to such a family affair, and here are some photos:

This is one of the unfortunate pigs to be killed. (There were two one-year old pigs).
When the pig had been killed, all it’s hair had to be scraped off. Boiling water gets poured over and then everybody get his turn. Here is my husband reluctantly taking his turn.

We were at our friend’s parents’ farm. They have a little ‘cortigo’, and this is part of their patio (patio they call it, which is confusing as in UK a patio is outside the house but here a patio is inside the house although it has no roof. More like a court yard)

I helped preparing the parsley and the garlic for the sausages by the fire. 

We started quite early in the morning and it was still cold outside. As soon as the sun is high enough it gets lovely and warm and we can all go round in our t-shirts.
The kitchen is brick built. I took a photo of it because I will probably have a similar kitchen in our new house.

The water jars are now obsolete as there is running water. But not long ago this was where drinking water was stored and most people still have them.

Look at this beautiful piece of furniture. (Not a Christmas decoration in sight! They don't do this here. They have little Nativity scenes somewhere, but no decorations as we know them).

The men drink wine from wine skins. They squirt the wine in their mouth. I’ve tried it once and promptly had wine all over me! An acquired skill I would say....

There are turkeys....

And chickens. And a beautiful cockerel.

Here is the pig (now pork) hung up and the nice cuts of meat on show.

I helped with the preparation of the gut (for the sausages).

Look at those tiles. They are typical Andalucian tiles. I love them. They have them in the shed!!

Towards the end people began preparing the communal meal. Here is an uncle preparing ‘migas’. A (poor man’s) dish made with olive oil, garlic and flour poured in, as you see here. It ends up looking like fried breadcrumbs.

The meal was liver and onions with these ‘migas’ washed down with home made wine. Oh I love it here. This is the back yard of the cortigo. Isn’t it a beautiful view!

 I hope this was not too much of a culture shock. I really enjoyed my day with this family.
Thanks for visiting and reading this far. You're a trooper!
God bless and CU soon.


  1. Fantastic!!
    What a great day - with family, even if not yours there is still love.

  2. Oh dear, this brings back memories of my childhood. My grandparents back in Hungary used to keep pigs and slaughter them the same way. It must have been quite an experience for you if you'd never seen anything like this before. It's certainly not done in the UK - the RSPCA would probably step in! I never really got used to it myself. It may have been the reason why I became vegetarian for a while - though I no longer am. I still remember the squealing of the pigs and the smell and I still can't eat pork, unless it is processed beyond recognition (which I know is not good for you). Another thing my grandma used to do was force feed the ducks and geese. I used to watch as a child and never realised just how cruel it was. I even wanted to try it! I think it is now illegal in the UK and some other European countries. That kitchen looks very authentic and rural - not something you would see in TV adverts, is it?

  3. Yes! This brings back childhood memories on our farm in Australia , too..... I really enjoyed scraping the hair off....but like Zsuzsa, HATED the squealing of hot spit when it was killed.....what a fabulous day you had...loooove those tiles, too.....& that patio! I want one:):))