Jamón Ibérico de Bellota

‘A peasant becomes fond of his pig and is glad to salt away its pork . ’ John Berger, Why look at animals?

Clamped to a bespoke stand, a slender leg gold-skinned, fat-marbled, Velázquez red. Black-hooved hogs flickered on fire-lit walls of ancient caves, still forage fragrant herbs among holm oaks on the dehesa. Through the montanera snuffle-grunt among grasses for acorns which give the flesh its nut-sweet flavour. Winter is the time of sacrifice: pack meat in salt, stir hot blood for morcillo, wash guts in vinegar and lemon. A pig is chosen, hefted onto a table-altar. Men soothe and stroke the prone creature, fear taints ungiven gifts.

Jenny Donnison