Sausage is a great deal like life. You get out of it about what you put into it. - Jimmy Dean
Embutidos, those cured, dry suspended sausages that everyone’s seen ‘hanging around’ the supermarket. There’s lots of types; the most common probably being Sobrasada, but the Catalan Butifarra and Mallorca’s very own version - the Camaiot, are all varieties you’ll frequently encounter - especially when visiting some of the many charming markets around the island.
So, what’s the big deal surrounding these sausages? Well, first of all - aside from being delicious - they play a huge role in local culture. Typically, as the weather starts cooling down around November, the matanzas (slaughters) would take place. The sausages were, in a practical sense, made in the interest of utilizing all of the animal, as well as having a product that could be preserved throughout the winter. Often, especially during the festive months, entire neighbourhoods would gather together to share in this tasty surplus of cheap produce.
But wait! It gets even more interesting.
A Bit of History #
Going back some 789 years, King Jaime I lead an invasion through Santa Ponsa in 1229, known historically as The Conquest of Mallorca.
The invasion itself was carried out in the interest of reconquering Mallorca back from under Muslim rule. While the capital, then known as Madina Mayurqa, fell within a year of the attack, Muslim resistance held out in surrounding mountains for three years, in a bloody war that has all but been forgotten. In fact, every year in August the conquest's success (amongst others) is celebrated in many Mallorcan villages and towns in an unmissable festival - “Moros vs Cristianos”.
Once the conquest, which was made on behalf of the Christian kingdoms was deemed a success in 1231, it was, of course, in everyone’s best interest to show they had converted back to Christianity. After all, we aren’t exactly talking about an era that was tolerant of diverse cultural beliefs. And of course, the best way people could show that they no longer held what at the time were considered heathen beliefs was to eat pork.
So, there you have it! A hanging sausage that - at initial glance, may come across as little more than a delicious tapa or a rather inappropriate euphemism - is actually a food with a deeply rooted cultural and historical meaning.
A Recipe for a Delicious Sobrasada Snack #
For a snack you’re guaranteed to never forget, get your hands on some Queso de Cabrales.Put this in any kind of bowl, add about a third of cream cheese, cover it in cling film and allow the mix to either melt in the microwave (or oven, without the cling film).
Meanwhile, simply pick the sobrasada apart with your hands to form a spreadable mix.
Once you have your melted, spreadable cheese and sobrasada - without mixing them - apply each to a slice of bread. Join the bread together, remove the piece that previously held the sobrasada on top, so that you’re left with a single piece of bread with some cheese and sobrasada on it. Take a bite, and prepare to reach Nirvana.
Sobrasada Pastries #
Remove the skin from 150 grs of sobrasada, cut in pieces of about 2 cms lenth, fry them in a slightly oiled pan. Set on kitchen paper to absorb the grease. Pre-heat the oven (180°C), roll out a sheet of puff pastry, cut out rounds (e.g. using a water glass), spread the sobrasada on one half and fold over the other half, giving the pastry edges a lick of egg yolk as glue and, with your thumb, firmly pressing down the edges. Perforate the top of each pastry several times with a fork, glaze with egg yoolk and put in the oven for 20 minutes. Eat hot or cold. Delicious!
By Gene Harley
28 November, 2022