Iberico Pigs - Pata Negra
El Cerdo Iberico - The Black Spanish Pig
The Spanish Dehesa, with Iberico pigs
Iberico Pigs and the Dehesa
The Dehesa is the hilly open woodland that is typical for the southwestern regions of Spain and the southeast of Portugal. In these wooded meadows, several species of oak (like brown oak and cork oak) play an important role.
(actually, the Dehesa looks a bit like the oak studded scenery in California between Bakersfield and Tehachapi, but then without the rattlesnakes and the Southern Pacific railroad)
These Spanish Iberico pigs roam freely in the Dehesa, eating grass, herbs and acorns, and producing the best quality ham - the "Bellota"
It's the oak trees that connect the black Spanish hog with the Dehesa. Pigs love acorns, and almost every fall there will be enough acorns on the ground for the pigs to feast on. Every year the Iberico pigs will stuff themselves with acorns, and this special diet generates a remarkably high percentage of unsaturated fats in the Iberico meat.
Iberico black hogs in the shade of an oak tree
The Iberico Race - The Pata Negra
The Iberico pig is a half wild hog race that has been roaming the Iberic peninsula for ages. The Iberico hog is very agile and active, standing quite high on its legs. And these hogs have black hooves - that's how they got the nickname "pata negra".
Most Iberico hogs are some shade of dark grey, but brownish varieties do exist as well.
A special quality of the Iberico pig is the ability to store fat in its muscle tissue, making for finely marbled and extra tender meat.
The head of the Iberico pig comes close to the head of the wild boar.
Travel to Spain?
We took these pictures in the summer of 2011 in the Dehesa between Ciudad Rodrigo and the towns of Béjar and Guijuelo, in the province of Salamanca. We highly recommend this area with its picturesque medieval towns and broad open landscapes to everybody who wants to get to know Spain a little better.
And, of course, the old city of Salamanca is a jewel as well.