Alentejo and the Black Pig

In the lands south of the Tagus river, people live a serene, calm and satisfied life with eyes set on the magnificence of wide horizons full of endless fields, set with oak, olive and cork trees. Elements that are fundamental in the life and nutrition of the people. The healthy and rudimentary style of life led by the people in Alentejo has originated an enviable gastronomy wished by the masses that search for it constantly, owing to authenticity and richness of the flavours offered.

It’s in the splendour of this gastronomy that one will be able to find a range of unique and exquisite flavours and products, such as, bread, olive oil and the original and authentic black pig presunto.

Since Roman times, black pig has been one of the main food sources of the Alentejo people. Numerous forests of oak and cork trees feed this nearly wild animal with dark fur that searches constantly for fresh herbs and acorns enjoying his freedom and the care of his keeper. The black pig fed with acorns left the Roman people surprised with the richness of the flavour and the softness of the meat. The Roman scientist Pliny the Elder often referred in his chronicles to the black pig as being one of the best products of the food chain.

Since the beginning of times it is a known fact that the acorns found on the Alentejo grounds are responsible for the excellence of the black pig meat. In Roman law we find rules on how to kill the pig in order to best preserve his meat. These laws remain today with slight alterations. The killing of the pig has always been a celebration, reuniting family and friends. Many products derive from this exquisite meat including blood sausage, this together with presunto was most appreciated by Roman nobles that would have them sent from the docks in Mértola along the river Guadiana.

Today in Mértola, Soledo artesanaly produces some of the richest products of the Alentejan gastronomy. Presuntos and paios made from black Alentejanan pig fattened with acorns with a knowledge of a cure from roman times, that were preserved accross sussessive generations that found in the pig a way of life and of survival.