The Slaughter Festival. February. Unique Festival
The local cuisine of the interior makes the province of Málaga stand out for preserving its identity up until nowadays. Olive oil or wine are some of the most widely claimed products in the last few years. However, the products derived from the pig are now becoming more and more popular. For centuries, they have been an essential element in the pantry of every village household. For more than a decade, Ardales—located in the Guadalteba Valley—has been paying homage to the traditional elaboration of sausages and pork meats by celebrating the Fiesta de la Matanza day. This day allows visitors to learn how sausages and other meat products used to be made, for which local women recreate the traditional methods with ancient tools. There is a local saying that goes, “Del cerdo, hasta los andares”, and the reality is that absolutely every part of the pig is used as it is all so good, especially if it has been reared in and around the village.
Botones (loaves), oven baked meat, tripe, chorizos (spicy sausages), and black pudding are handed out for visitors and locals alike to taste, as all the inhabitants of Ardales play cook for a day. And this is just the appetiser before typical Ardales-style carne en salsa stew is served at the square. Involving a secret preparation that few locals know, its basic ingredients are known to include lean pork meat, peppers, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. For the last few years, the tastings of this delicious Ardales dish have taken place around 2 p.m.
Another objective of this festivity is, of course, to promote the local food products from the village and others in the region. During the whole day, visitors are treated to free tasting sessions at over twenty different stands that are set up by the various businesses in the sector from the village.
Also, a selection of the best local products—including morcón, lomo (loin), and the famous Ardales white spicy sausage among other pork sausages—are available for sale. Considering Ardales confectionery is well known for its quality and variety, there are also other favourite local delicacies, like pastries. Almond biscuits are exceptional since they are still made traditionally in different town establishments. These stands are displaying other traditional basics too, such as extra virgin olive oil and goat cheese.
There is a local saying that goes, "Del cerdo, hasta los andares”, and the reality is that absolutely every part of the pig is used as it is all so good, especially if it has been reared in and around the village.
Very early in the morning some relatives of some families from this beautiful village get up in a festive mood in order to clean the water jars, earthenware jars, and the utensils in huge pots that will used later on in the process for chop up, cut, and distribute and prepare all the different parts of the pig, from the tail to its ears and including the “andares”: Spicy sausage black pudding, legs of ham, and ham cuts, are carefully picked out for the big day; the Dia de la Matanza, which is celebrated mid-way through February.
This grand gastronomic festivity, which has been celebrated for the past four years, is fast becoming an important part of the Festival calendar in the province and it can attract up to 10.000 people between inhabitants, tourists and famous people.
It is the women (grandmothers, aunts, cousins and neighbours) who go to great lengths to prepare a huge popular lunch that consists in a large pot of pork in sauce and accompanied by local sausages from the land and, as could not be otherwise, some wine.
Stews, oven baked meat, tripe, spicy sausages, black pudding, etc., are handed out for visitors and locals alike to taste, as all the inhabitants of Ardales play cook for a day.
Only a few years ago these “matanzas” were done inside people’s homes and were part and parcel of people’s childhood experience. This village set to recuperate this tradition a few years ago so that the younger inhabitants and outsiders could understand a little about how people lived before. During the festival stalls are set up in the street and visitors can listen to explanations as to the elaboration of the local sausages and hams. However it should be pointed out that the pig is not actually killed for the meal, but rather the meat is already cut up into pieces when it gets to the village.
Another objective of this festivity is, of course, to promote the local food products from the village and others in the region. During the whole day visitors are treated to free tasting sessions at twenty different stands that are set up by the different businesses in the sector from the village. And, a selection of the best local products are available for sale for all to acquire at their will.
To make the festivity complete, music and dance are both integral activities throughout the day. A stage is set up in the Plaza de San Isidro, which is at the heart of the festival and is where all the local dance troops meet and perform. The climax of the performances comes after the food when the main invited guest performer, who is always someone quite famous, takes the stage to the delight of inhabitants and visitors alike.