An Ibiza Matanza

A matanza, literally translated is a slaughter. Matanzas in Spain are quite common and usually take place at the end of the summer season when the weather is much cooler.

In Ibiza, most matanzas are at the end of November and take place in the campo. Although opinions vary and they are considered a cruel way of killing an animal, this has been a tradition in Ibiza for many years and the slaughter of one pig can feed a family for a whole year. Every single part of the pig is used, right down to the blood, with the exception of the jaw which is usually thrown to one side for the wildlife to feast on.

Personal opinions and cruelness aside, here is a little bit about what takes place at one of these matanzas...

The pig is kept in a dark pen all year and fattened up as much as possible. On the morning of the matanza it is dragged out by a hook in its nose and its throat is slit. While the blood drips in to a bucket, the farmers get to work skinning it. This is a complicated process as the skin is later used for sausages so must be intact.

Once skinned, the different parts are all sliced, chopped and minced. The women begin preparing the bits that will be cooked and eaten at the feast the very same day, along with potatoes, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, freshly picked mushrooms, parsley & rosemary and of course the rice. Arroz de matanza is a delicious soupy dish flavoured with different bits of pork and made with rice. Another part of the whole process, almost as important as the cleaning of the intestines with water and lemons, is the constant consumption throughout the day of vi pagès - the traditional home-brew wine!
Everyone involved is given a task and newcomers are generally saddled with the essential yet tedious one of swatting the flies away with a branch of algarroba tree, cut specifically for this. 

The pig blood is deep fried and passed around as a snack with pieces of pan pagès, much appreciated by everyone who has been up since dawn, laughing, joking, working and drinking! Frito de cerdo and other tasty snacks are prepared but you must really be a meat lover to enjoy them. The blood that is not used here is added to a huge trough filled with minced meat and hand mixed with all the necessary spices, including chilli to give the sobrasada that it´s turned into a good kick!! This mince is inserted in to the pre-cleaned intestines and hung up to dry in a dark, cool room until ready.

The atmosphere and hard work entailed in this traditional ritual is amazing and if it weren´t for the actual killing of the beast, it is quite an enjoyable and educational event! So if you are ever invited to one of these matanzas, remember that they can be quite gruesome and not for the faint hearted!