XIXth Sausage Fair in Requena…..10-12 February 2012.

Only a week to go! Next weekend will see the 19th annual sausage fair in Requena, the Muestra del Embutido Artesano y de Calidad. For those who have never visited this fair let me explain a little about what you can expect if you decide to visit Requena, just an hour out of Valencia on the A3 Motorway.

Firstly, Requena is not the only town which produces sausages…..but it is arguably the best! Quality is absolutely the key and the towns produce has its own quality mark, the CRIGP Embutidos de Requena putting it on a par with Champagne and Melton Mowbray! The Regulatory Council is responsible for authorising the products, what goes into them , their quality and then for promoting them. This fair is considered one of the cultural history fairs of Spain making it one of the most important held each year. For this reason the Valencian Government also sponsor the fair  each year.

Variety of Sausages on Sale.

The pig is queen  and only those raised within the geographical boundary of the town may be used to make Requenas sausage products. Moreover there are only twelve producers who are allowed to use the quality mark, all having butchers shops within the town or its hamlets. These are Angelita, Don Paco, Encarna, El Serrano, Emilia, Embutidos Emilia Villa, Embutidos El Ponton, Isabel, Las tres Rosas, Mari Luz, Tere and Vergara.

Only female pigs, or castrated males may be used and even the quality of the spices is strictly controlled. The sausages are entirely natural, in natural skins and have recently been the subject of a European Community study into the production of the traditional quality sausages produced all around the Mediterranean. Studies have also been carried out into reducing the fat content without changing the quality or taste of the sausages.

Sample Plates of Sausages.

Each of the  sausages produced  employs a different spice  or mix which makes them quite distinct. They are, Longaniza, Salcichon, Sobrasada, Perro, Chorizo, Morcilla de Cebolla, Güena and Orza.

Longaniza is  the sausage which looks most like an English chippolata, and can be thick or thin. They are made from around 80% lean pork and 20% bacon with salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves and garlic and are usually dressed with a thin white string.

Salcichon is a form of longaniza but air-dried and cured. They weigh between 300-500gms and are usually sold whole. These are for slicing and eating cold. There is a long thin version called longaniza de pascua.

Bollo, Another Requenense Product!

Sobrasada is the orange coloured spreadable paste sausage, minced fine lean pork and pancetta or tocino ( fat) which is then flavoured with orange and pimenton. This is also sold whole and weighs up to 500gm depending on the skin it is in. It keeps well in the fridge and is excellent on toast!

Chorizo from Requena is a mixture of chopped lean pork (70%) and the rest tocino. Salt , pepper, pimenton, garlic, cinnamon and clove are added, and sometimes wine or spirits as well! It is the pimenton which gives the chorizo its distinct red colour.

Perro is not `dog´ but a cured , dried pork sausage sold in 500gm peices. 15-20% of lean meat, the rest Tocino and salt, pepper, spirits  and garlic. It is sliced and served cold.

Morcilla de Cebolla is a form of black sausage, made from rice and onion, lard, blood and salt, cinnamon,  clove and pepper. They are sold sausage sized and you will find them in bars all around Valencia, often served mixed in scrambled egg inside a bocadillo or with a chorizo and a longaniza…..the classic blanco, negro y rojo! The spice content is quite marked.

Pig Roast!

Güena is a longaniza with bacon and offal chopped into the pork base, and with the usual spices. It is a sausage with a bit more texture and good served hot or sliced and cold.

Orza is a tradition, it is to preserve the sausages in oil in an earthenware or glass jar and dates back to the traditional matanza when sausages are preserved to eat during the rest of the year. They are sold in jars.

The fair itself is held in the Avenida Arrabal in Requena, the towns wide tree-lined boulevard, near to the railway station. You can also park in many of the side streets. There are a number of marquees, one with the sausage producers, each of which has their own stall offering samples of all the sausages as well as selling them. There is also a bar dispensing wine from the Coviñas coop. In another marquee you can taste other products, Bollo ( the bread stuffed with sausages and bacon) olive oil, cakes and traditional dishes made by the local housewives association ( especially good are Mortueruelo- Requenas own pate- and ajoarriero a dish made from salt cod and potato). There are other attractions as well to visit in Requena so allow the whole day for your visit!

In previous years at lunchtime there has also been a hog-roast in the Avenida with a choice of dishes…usually roast pork, potatos cooked in the local style or arroz de matanza, a dish which is more or less Requenas version of arroz al horno.

Traditional Potato Dish.

The fair is best visited on Saturday or Sunday and opens at around 11.00am . On arrival an entry ticket will cost you around 10€  which holds a number of sampling tickets which will get you plates of sausages, glasses of wine , water, coffee etc. In previous years the hog-roast ticket has sometimes been included and on other occasions sold separately. This is not mentioned in any of this years publicity so it may be a victim of the crisis…..but it won´t detract from what is a great day out sampling some really traditional quality products.

And be prepared for Valencians to be there in droves, laden down with carrier bags of sausages to keep them going for a while……this is a very popular fair! Go wrapped up well….Requena can be 5-6º cooler than the coastal plain at this time of year!

Morteruelo and Ajoarriero.

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  • Danjwood  On March 5, 2012 at 4:43 am

    Hola Ricardo,

    As a fan of sausages, I thought you’d like this ancient sausage delight – Trojan Pig. We experienced it on the beach up the coast from you near Ampurias:

    all the best

  • rikiwigley  On March 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Yes, I saw the original programme and watched the series until the reception from the satellite gave up – never did get to Rome! I do intend to do this myself this summer!

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